Definition of contest in US English:



  • 1An event in which people compete for supremacy in a sport, activity, or particular quality.

    ‘a beauty contest’
    ‘a gigantic air rifle shooting contest’
    • ‘It's one of the myths of sport that international contests create goodwill between the competing nations.’
    • ‘Special performances, exhibitions, lectures, contests, charity events, tourist visits and creative meetings will mark the celebration.’
    • ‘Festivals are based on contests and events such as poetry readings, sports, and other activities.’
    • ‘The deputy mayor added that there will be games, including a tug-o-war on the beach, eating contests and numerous other events open to residents and tourists.’
    • ‘The technical events include quiz contests, an on-the-spot hardware design contest and a hardware debugging contest.’
    • ‘Over 25 events, including contests, classes and fun games, will be held.’
    • ‘College games prove to be more predictable than professional contests in the same sport.’
    • ‘Ironically, the arrival of the breakthrough goal signalled the end of a quality contest.’
    • ‘Visitors will get a chance to win discount coupons by participating in musical activities and spot contests.’
    • ‘It is celebrated on the last weekend in July, and includes a mass and picnic, music, dancing, and sports contests.’
    • ‘The Romans also had other events during the gladiatorial contests.’
    • ‘The fact that the two teams could only manage six scores between them in half an hour gives some measure of the quality of the contest.’
    • ‘The programme includes exhibitions, concerts, films and visiting guests, round tables, workshops, contests and many other events.’
    • ‘Pilots will compete in contests including an air trial of local landmarks.’
    • ‘The following afternoon, the remainder of the events took place, and they varied from a tug-of-war contest to a game of Trivial Pursuit.’
    • ‘Those range from digital newsletters to online forums to contests to relevant activities encouraging customer loyalty and participation.’
    • ‘Bent on making it a grand event, outshining such contests held in the previous years in the city, the event is expected to take off in a big way.’
    • ‘Eight out of the nineteen events were contests.’
    • ‘Other regular events include elocution contests, fine arts competitions and debates.’
    • ‘As with regular rodeo events, the sponsor contest involved three days of competition before the winner was announced on the last day.’
    competition, match, tournament, game, meet
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    1. 1.1 A competition for a political position.
      ‘the presidential contest’
      • ‘Here the political contest had a national dimension.’
      • ‘He asks which of them will take the decisive initiative in the next round of political contests.’
      • ‘This dilute corporatism does not exclude a contest of political parties.’
      • ‘I think most regard such lunges for underdog status, at least in relation to a political contest, as a byword.’
      • ‘Political contests are battles of ideas - and a slick campaign will not work without values and content at its heart.’
      • ‘Third, critics will say eliminating the limits on contributions would lead to more corruption in political contests.’
      • ‘As political contests sink further into the gutter of abuse, public cynicism about and alienation from politics can only intensify.’
      • ‘Left leaning proponents of the precautionary principle need to think carefully about how they would fare in political contests over their favorite social policies.’
      • ‘Eight days to what people in Iowa like to call the first real political contest in the presidential election.’
      • ‘Presidential contests differ from other types of political races.’
      • ‘But we had a clear understanding between ourselves that there was a distinction between the political contest and the personal friendship.’
      • ‘They could then reduce the political contest to one between core, politically active constituencies.’
      • ‘Then, presidential candidates can't ignore the early political contests in New Hampshire and Iowa, or can they?’
      • ‘After all, this may be one of the most interesting contests in recent American political history.’
      • ‘Postcolonial criticism bears witness to the unequal and uneven forces of cultural representation involved in the contest for political and social authority within the modern world order.’
      • ‘Or at least that is the message that is being broadcast 24 hours a day as the contest for the new position of Mayor heats up.’
      • ‘It is also the outcome of the calculated political manipulation of the contest for the Democratic presidential nomination.’
      • ‘Watching the Conservative Party leadership contest, political neutrals are unsure whether to laugh or cry.’
      • ‘We'll get heartily sick of these two issues over the next three months but, for now, both introduce wonderful novelty to the political contest.’
      • ‘It has grown up out of the political contests which have raged from time to time about currency questions.’
      competition, battle, fight, clash, feud
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    2. 1.2 A dispute or conflict.
      ‘a contest between traditional and liberal views’
      • ‘Participants must agree to arbitration outside of the US court system for conflicts arising from this contest.’
      • ‘Leading the charge are two of our finest and bravest warriors and I just hope that the contest can be resolved without recourse to conflict.’
      • ‘Part B concentrates on such contests and disputes, exploring them more systematically than did the prior materials.’
      • ‘This paper assesses, and contests, the long tradition of attacks on the use of invented sentences in language teaching.’
      • ‘Nobody can take part in the traditional European contest for possession after the tackle if his nose is more than 6in off the ground.’
      • ‘Hence, the contests were not resident-intruder situations and not merely boundary disputes.’
      • ‘Thus, it appeared that any minor conflict might quickly escalate into a nuclear contest and lead to the destruction of much of Europe in the process.’
      • ‘Thus, these special units really just reduce the conflict into a tit for tat contest.’
      • ‘Some deputies last night said they still hoped that at least one of the four would withdraw to rein in a contest all hope will avoid conflict.’
      • ‘In such a contest the traditional discomfort associated with the mogul can be put to one side because it serves a greater good.’
      • ‘In contrast, the pragmatic policy, consistent with his own perception of the conflict, viewed the war purely as a military contest.’
      • ‘Stalin had not selected his closest subordinates with a view to their forming a closely knit band of brothers, and this meant that the contest for power would not be purely a matter of conflicting policies.’
      • ‘Everything said makes it possible to conclude that armed struggle is truly the main form of contest in military conflicts and their specific content.’
      • ‘The contest over tropes of traditional Africa and measures of authenticity in postcolonial arts and politics can be thought of in a similar manner.’
      • ‘Directors have turned the traditional good versus evil contest into the screen classics.’
      • ‘After a rough and disputed contest - the aluminium industry was notorious for its murders and gangsterism - he won.’
      • ‘Street fights, and other contests sometimes developed between workers in guilds that maintained traditional rivalries.’
      • ‘I don't at this stage, and I never have thought, that it's constructive to characterise it as a conflict or a contest.’
      • ‘Thus the struggle for legitimacy and recognition is not only a contest between traditional authorities and state actors.’
      • ‘Rather, it's a return to the traditional geopolitical contest.’
      struggle, conflict, confrontation, collision, clash, battle, fight, combat, tussle, skirmish, duel, race
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[with object]
  • 1Engage in competition to attain (a position of power)

    ‘she declared her intention to contest the presidency’
    • ‘He advised party members willing to contest positions during the forthcoming congress to complete forms from the party headquarters.’
    • ‘It was representing Wolf hill as a delegate to the county board that he successfully contested the position of secretary.’
    • ‘Last year, 17 candidates ran for board positions and only two executive positions were contested.’
    • ‘It appears that it will be a quite convention with none of the top positions been contested.’
    • ‘Otherwise, the complacency of the praise songs and the denial of real contesting positions will mean slow stagnation.’
    • ‘At the same meeting, the delegates failed to amend a clause in the constitution which does not allow teachers at the level of headmaster or deputy to contest positions in the executive.’
    • ‘He said at no time did he campaign for the position from any association and saw no need to get disappointed because he was just asked to contest the position.’
    • ‘All up, there are 18 candidates contesting the eight places up for grabs - down two from the existing council of 10.’
    • ‘The members said anyone could contest the position as long as they had influence and interest.’
    • ‘When voting itself took place, it was announced at the meeting that four male positions and three female positions were contested.’
    • ‘From the start, Postal rode in tight formation, no other teams contesting the space on the road.’
    • ‘The gratifying aspect of this was that each position was contested and resulted in the following being elected.’
    • ‘Don't hide in the slate and contest a back-seat position; come to the front, and run for deputy political leader.’
    • ‘Twelve people are contesting eight positions on city council.’
    • ‘Waterford had several candidates for the highly contested positions and did very well to get three of these candidates elected.’
    • ‘How did supporters of the proposed federal Constitution contest this position?’
    • ‘So far two people are competing for the position and they are Paddy Conroy and current Lady Mayoress Bridie Conroy who will be contesting her position.’
    • ‘One look at a database shows how often this position is contested in grandmaster games.’
    • ‘In the post-modern world, preoccupied with contesting every perceived centre of power, the severest casualty has been our ability to judge between right and wrong, beautiful and ugly.’
    • ‘A prominent member of the 1922 Committee, he may find he is be unable to contest a place on its executive because he will not be an MP when the election takes place.’
    compete for, contend for, vie for, challenge for, fight for, fight over, battle for, struggle for, tussle for
    compete in, contend in, fight in, battle in, enter, take part in, be a competitor in, participate in, put one's name down for, go in for
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    1. 1.1 Take part in (a competition or election)
      ‘a coalition was formed to contest the presidential elections’
      • ‘It's bad enough now with 25 parties contesting the general election.’
      • ‘After the Russian troops left Chechnya by 1997, he contested the presidential election there.’
      • ‘‘I could easily see a situation where we would not contest a presidential election,’ said the source.’
      • ‘Let them take to active campaigning now, contest the elections next time, and later perhaps, even become Ministers.’
      • ‘So you have a very large number of contractors contesting elections.’
      • ‘No one has any real doubt about who's won Egypt's first contested presidential election.’
      • ‘A number of NU leaders are contesting the presidential election.’
      • ‘This is because it could force nationalist opposition parties to share a pro-euro platform with Labour while contesting a parliamentary election campaign.’
      • ‘But by 1800, contested presidential elections were a regular feature of American government.’
      • ‘Methodology was contested in the election of eight senators out of a total of 7,500 posts filled.’
      • ‘‘There is no internal pressure to contest the presidential election,’ one source said.’
      • ‘Jones returned and contested the general election unsuccessfully…’
      • ‘Together, they campaigned for the right to contest the presidential election scheduled for December 1990.’
      • ‘Six candidates are contesting the election from Labour, the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats, the UK Independence Party and the Green Party, as well as one independent.’
      • ‘The two candidates then contest the general election.’
      • ‘The party's general council decided following the last election they would contest the next poll as an independent party, a spokesperson said.’
      • ‘He was minister for health from 1954 to 1957 and contested the presidential elections of 1966 and 1973.’
      • ‘The party is now preparing to contest Portugal's presidential election, which is due to be held in January next year.’
      • ‘According to the presidential election law, a party must win at least 3 percent of House seats or 5 percent of the vote to contest the presidential election.’
      • ‘The Progressive Democrats are not contesting the European elections but the party is running 127 candidates in the local elections, compared to 62 in 1999.’
  • 2Oppose (an action, decision, or theory) as mistaken or wrong.

    ‘the former chairman contests his dismissal’
    • ‘National threatens to dismantle workers rights to contest dismissal and also seek to reduce holiday entitlements.’
    • ‘At the same time they also do not possess the means to question and contest such representations.’
    • ‘He has as yet not had an opportunity to defend himself against the criminal charges nor to contest the dismissal in an academic proceeding.’
    • ‘Let's consider the facts surrounding the death of David, as opposed to the bitterly contested evidence.’
    • ‘The problem here is that ‘identity’ is one of the most contested concepts in post-structural social theory.’
    • ‘The German authorities applied this decision, refusing the customs exemption, and the applicant sought to contest this before the national court.’
    • ‘They sought to contest the illegality of their situation by means of this citizen participation.’
    • ‘Since Paul, 60, and Lurline, 63, each had a previous marriage, the trusts also prevents former spouses from contesting their assets in court.’
    • ‘He is a bigwig and has many contacts, as I discovered when I tried to get a lawyer later to contest his dismissal.’
    • ‘Whitely was contested by his former wife and also his live in companion.’
    • ‘I do not think it was so much a question of contesting the issue, but the fact was that there was no choice about the matter.’
    • ‘None of the allegations made by the former pupils were contested.’
    • ‘That is to say, matters ranging from training methods to nutrition to contest results.’
    • ‘His essay ‘Our America’ sought to contest the cultural and linguistic destiny of America as a signifier.’
    • ‘My own answers to those other questions can certainly be contested.’
    • ‘So it contests the theory of evolution while also accommodating much of the theories?’
    • ‘The violator is then given an opportunity to respond, defend the content in question and contest the size of the fine.’
    • ‘In other words, the cases were substantial enough that the nurses didn't even contest the allegations or seek a less severe discipline than surrender.’
    • ‘As a result, we seem to traffic in such meanings even when we seek to contest them.’
    • ‘At this point, in the United States, that is a legally contested question and that contest may take several years to fully play out in the Courts.’
    oppose, object to, challenge, dispute, take a stand against, resist, defy, strive against, struggle against, take issue with
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    1. 2.1 Engage in dispute about.
      ‘the issues have been hotly contested’
      • ‘However, the figures are hotly contested by all groups.’
      • ‘The event at the Grange Hotel, which attracted 150 people, was generously supported by local companies, and some auction items were hotly contested.’
      • ‘Here we had a mere fifteen year-old brought on as a substitute in a hotly contested senior final who was subsequently felled and left unconscious.’
      • ‘The directive, which is up for review at the close of 2002, will no doubt be a hotly contested debate.’
      • ‘In all my days I have never seen such an honest football team, hotly contesting every ball before gathering and breaking out into a habitual grace rarely seen outside the great opera halls.’
      • ‘This is a hotly contested issue in the state of Arizona, many other states in this country, certainly all of the border states.’
      • ‘Turnout surged in such Southern Bible Belt states as Alabama and Tennessee, which had no hotly contested races on their ballots.’
      • ‘The idea that the history is more an interpretive art than a precise science is hotly contested - even among historians.’
      • ‘Leaders openly contest their positions in front of Australian voters?’
      • ‘This latter claim especially could be hotly contested.’
      • ‘The ‘cause’ of an individual's sexual orientation is one of the most hotly contested debates within the scientific community.’
      • ‘The question of whether more homeless people become mentally ill or whether more mentally ill people are sliding into severe poverty is hotly contested.’
      • ‘In a hotly contested lawsuit before a federal appeals court, two peer-to-peer companies are about to gain a vast army of allies: America's librarians.’
      • ‘The party will need to weather 80-odd hotly contested preselections.’
      • ‘The troops stated that their firing was in retaliation to a militant attack on them, a charge hotly contested by human rights groups in the state.’
      • ‘The senior A and B race, which is of classic status this year will be hotly contested as it is used as a selection race for early season Irish international teams.’
      • ‘Education and its reform were hotly contested topics of debate in Regency Spain.’
      • ‘Both teams get the chance to move ahead today, with the critical doubles rubber in the heat of the early afternoon promising to be a hotly contested affair.’
      • ‘Even on the eve of what may be a hotly contested re-election campaign, the governor is supposed to lead, not divide.’
      • ‘This was hotly contested in the ensuring discussion.’
      debate, argue about, dispute, quarrel over
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  • no contest

    • 1Law
      A plea by which a defendant in a criminal prosecution accepts conviction but does not plead or admit guilt.

      ‘he pleaded no contest to two misdemeanor counts’
      • ‘This comes after prosecutors claim the singer failed a drug test and violated her probation after pleading no contest to assaulting a woman.’
      • ‘On November 6, he pleaded no contest to grand theft and tax evasion.’
      • ‘Her twin sister, Barbara, last month pleaded no contest to underage possession of alcohol stemming from the same May visit to a popular Mexican restaurant in Austin, the Texas capital.’
      • ‘In addition, the boy's father pleaded no contest to spousal abuse in 2001.’
      • ‘The so-called runaway bride has pleaded no contest to a felony charge of making false statements to police.’
      • ‘This comes, of course, less than a month after Jenna pled no contest to alcohol possession, after she was picked up in sweep of nightclubs by the city police.’
      • ‘Of the approximately 77,000 defendants convicted on federal charges in 2001, 97 percent pleaded guilty or no contest.’
      • ‘Even ravers who pleaded no contest and paid a reduced fine will get their money back.’
      • ‘He pled no contest and will receive 18 months probation.’
      • ‘Irvin pleaded no contest to cocaine possession, was sentenced to four years of probation, about 800 hours of community service and a $10,000 fine.’
      • ‘Last week, Bennett pled no contest to some misdemeanor charges from the incident and will have no further obstacles in the case.’
      • ‘His campaign unraveled because of charges of campaign finance violations to which he pleaded no contest.’
      • ‘Second, having a leader who has pleaded no contest to a crime will almost certainly improve the opposition's chances in the next election, if they can only get their act together.’
      • ‘I think he pled no contest because the district attorney was going to put two more felony child abuses charges on him and a sexual assault charge.’
      • ‘The juvenile antagonist pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor aggravated battery charge and received probation.’
      • ‘Originally charged with felony assault with a deadly weapon, she pleaded no contest Thursday to a reduced assault charge.’
      • ‘Anyway, for Scott, it's great news, as he has managed to swerve a trial for possession of coke and heroin by pleading no contest and doing the twelve-step reshuffle.’
      • ‘That came six months after she pleaded no contest in Los Angeles to hit and run, drunken driving, and driving with a suspended license.’
      • ‘Ross, who telephoned into the city court hearing from New York, pleaded no contest to DUI.’
      • ‘He pleaded no contest and was placed on 10 years' probation in that 1991 case.’
    • 2A decision by the referee to declare a boxing match invalid on the grounds that one or both of the boxers are not making serious efforts.

      • ‘The fight was no contest as he pulverized his opponent in just over two minutes.’
      • ‘That match was no contest as the American romped home 6-2 6-3.’
      • ‘In their first meeting Aug.28, 1998 in Las Vegas, the fight ended in the fourth round as a no contest when the referee the fighters from a clinch on the ropes.’
      • ‘His last foray into the ring was in February when his fight with Raul was declared a no contest.’
      • ‘The match was ruled no contest when Triple H ran in to help X-Pac.’
      1. 2.1A competition, comparison, or choice of which the outcome is a foregone conclusion.
        ‘when the two teams faced each other it was no contest’
        • ‘But a torch to compete with blazing headlights is no contest.’
        • ‘But in the end the choice between sales and administration was no contest.’
        • ‘I again ask people to think about this argument about freedom of choice, because there is just no contest.’
        • ‘There is absolutely no contest comparing the new soundtrack to the old.’
        • ‘In any contest involving debate, there would be no contest.’
        • ‘New Yorkers are nicer, and way more real - it's no contest.’
        • ‘If one accepts the choice of national interest vs. altruism, there is no contest as to which will triumph.’
        • ‘All we'll say is this, when there's a choice between freedoms and knee-jerk politics, there's no contest with this government.’
        • ‘He threw in a few attention-seeking barbs, but as a popularity competition, it was no contest.’
        • ‘When horror on screen is competing with the real world, there really is no contest.’


Late 16th century (as a verb in the sense ‘swear to, attest’): from Latin contestari ‘call upon to witness, initiate (by calling witnesses)’, from con- ‘together’ + testare ‘to witness’. The senses ‘wrangle, struggle for’ arose in the early 17th century, whence the current noun and verb senses.