Definition of contract in US English:

contract

noun

  • 1A written or spoken agreement, especially one concerning employment, sales, or tenancy, that is intended to be enforceable by law.

    ‘both parties must sign employment contracts’
    ‘a network of doctors and hospitals under contract to provide services’
    • ‘There has never been a better time to renegotiate a maintenance contract.’
    • ‘Trade talks on Thursday saw 82 Irish companies sign contracts worth €40 million over the next three years.’
    • ‘Although existing contracts will be allowed to run their course, they will be replaced by new contracts or in-house arrangements that put all employees on an equal footing.’
    • ‘The panel will also strive to bring the contents of contracts concerning the sale of Japanese technology and equipment to the Chinese side in line with global standards.’
    • ‘Make certain that your severance package is clearly spelled out in your employment contract.’
    • ‘Within 28 days of signing your contract of employment you should have received a copy of the disciplinary procedure.’
    • ‘When an agreement is reached with the owner, a private contract is written and signed.’
    • ‘In your case, it would be a waste of time to sue because a contract for the sale of land has to be in writing to be valid.’
    • ‘Property is freehold and all contracts are written in English.’
    • ‘You must comply with the Statute of Frauds, which means that the contract must be in writing and that the burden of proof will be on you to assert your claim.’
    • ‘New firms might also be awarded contracts at the end of the review.’
    • ‘They began going to retailers to renegotiate their contracts.’
    • ‘It is not surprising then that landlord domination of the land rental market has resulted in stringent tenancy contracts.’
    • ‘Every employee must be given a contract of employment.’
    • ‘We retained a district sales manager with total accountability for driving sales, not negotiating contracts.’
    • ‘Seventy-four percent of that company's contracts over the last six years were won without competition.’
    • ‘Was there a construction contract between the parties?’
    • ‘The result for tenants and landlords would be increasingly complicated tenancy contracts which would be designed in favour of the landlord.’
    • ‘Food processors enter into formal contracts with individual farmers to meet their supply needs.’
    • ‘Their employment contracts will not be changed.’
    agreement, commitment, arrangement, settlement, undertaking, understanding, compact, covenant, pact, bond
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 The branch of law concerned with the making and observation of contracts.
      • ‘That relationship is governed by the ordinary rules of the law of contract.’
      • ‘The validity of the contracts and of the acts done was governed entirely by the law of contract, not by the statutes.’
      • ‘Most of these cases would today be regarded as falling under the law of contract, not tort.’
      • ‘Omitting to do so may lead to civil liability in contract, tort, equity, or restitution.’
      • ‘The English law of contract is not subject to any such abject paternalism.’
    2. 1.2informal An arrangement for someone to be killed by a hired assassin.
      ‘smuggling bosses routinely put out contracts on witnesses’
      • ‘The Hit Man's first step onto the slippery slope had been taking a contract to kill a gangster.’
      • ‘Then a solution presents itself: why not hire a contract killer?’
      • ‘Vincent is a ruthless contract killer and has to kill five people in a single night.’
      • ‘Let us not forget that we are dealing with the alleged contract murder of a young naturopathic doctor, a crime that shocked the nation.’
      • ‘During the meeting, Hodson claimed he was offered a contract to kill an alleged amphetamine trafficker.’
      • ‘Whether it was a random killing, a settling of old accounts or a political contract killing remains unclear.’
      • ‘Police have not ruled out robbery as a motive for the murder, but suspect it could have been a revenge murder or a contract killing disguised as a robbery.’
      • ‘The murder of a father-of-two, who was shot dead outside his Virginia Water home, could have been the victim of a contract killing, according to police.’
      • ‘The third tale speaks of El Chivo, a bitter ex-guerrilla-turned-hit man, who is given a contract to kill a wealthy businessman.’
      • ‘A British woman who tried to arrange the contract killing of her husband was jailed for five years on Wednesday.’
      • ‘He could claim that while creating and producing hit game shows, he was also a contract assassin for the CIA.’
      • ‘It was to have been a straight-forward contract killing arranged by an adulterous couple to rid them of the man's wife.’
      • ‘For example, a serial killer and a contract killer both kill lots of people, but the crimes are essentially different.’
      • ‘He had been offered $50,000 to carry out the hit, and was jailed for life for the contract killing.’
      • ‘A jury could reject entirely your client's statements and say all of the evidence is consistent with his being involved in the contract killing.’
      • ‘Smith is accused by the Crown of being a contract killer, responsible for four other planned murders over the past 34 years.’
      • ‘There had been speculation that the couple, or a relative, had been on a witness protection scheme and that the shooting was a contract killing.’
      • ‘When he can't succeed in killing himself, he hires a contract killer to carry out the job for him.’
      • ‘The film, a story of a contract killer fighting his conscience more often than his bullet-laden opponents, makes some brave new noises.’
      • ‘There are so many people with contracts out on his life he has to look over his shoulder all the time.’
      • ‘When his boss becomes suspicious, the three decide to hire a contract killer, played by Adam Faith.’
    3. 1.3Bridge The declarer's undertaking to win the number of tricks bid with a stated suit as trump.
      ‘South can make the contract with correct play’
      • ‘When bidding a contract with a minor suit as trumps, the suit is not mentioned.’
      • ‘If the contract is set, he doesn't make the bid, then his opponent scores a mark.’
      • ‘The team that won the auction but did not make enough tricks to make the contract gets the score of the lower scoring team.’
      • ‘After a contract on the bid is made, the declarer decides whether to set the rank for that hand high or low.’
      • ‘Beginning with the player to dealer's left, each player may pass or bid a contract.’
    4. 1.4dated A formal agreement to marry.
      • ‘They both meet each other and make a contract to marry.’
      • ‘A contract of marriage may be made through agents acting ad hoc on behalf of the bride and bridegroom themselves, or of their guardians.’
      • ‘The contract of betrothal is made at the village temple and the caste-fellows sprinkle turmeric and water over the parties.’
      • ‘After this outburst, the Emperor applied to be released from his contract to wed the Princess Mary, who was still an infant.’
      • ‘It was only 3 years later, September 29, 1662, that Catherine and Jean Durand signed a contract to be married.’

verb

  • 1no object Decrease in size, number, or range.

    ‘glass contracts as it cools’
    • ‘The deer's range later contracted to the Ural Mountains, in modern-day Russia, which separate Europe from Asia.’
    • ‘This causes the skin's natural collagen to contract, usually reducing wrinkles over the following months.’
    • ‘The polar ice caps are contracting at a rate of 9 percent each decade.’
    • ‘That is because all objects expand when they are heated and contract when they are cooled.’
    • ‘When they contract they reduce the internal diameter of the vessels in the arterial network.’
    • ‘The economy unexpectedly expanded in the final three months of last year after contracting in the third quarter.’
    • ‘Spain is increasing the size of its fishing fleet while ours is contracting.’
    • ‘Then, while still contracting, the star cools through yellow and red-hot, and the protyle condenses into progressively heavier elements.’
    • ‘I feel a tear trickle softly down my cheek, and my throat contracts to half its normal size.’
    • ‘Solid pieces used for the table top will expand and contract with changes in humidity.’
    • ‘Revised figures have shown that the Japanese economy contracted by 0.6 percent in the September quarter.’
    • ‘l Output in Japan, the world's second-biggest economy, contracted sharply in the second quarter of the year.’
    • ‘While most Asian economies contracted in the third quarter, Korea grew by 1.8 %.’
    • ‘Most liquids contract as they cool.’
    • ‘As the lava solidified and cooled, it contracted, but the surface layers, exposed to the air, cooled faster than the deeper layers.’
    • ‘Because wood absorbs moisture, it will expand and contract with changes in the weather and humidity.’
    • ‘These stars change in actual size by about 10 per cent, expanding and contracting over a period of several days.’
    • ‘On cooling it contracts to a smaller dimension, thus reducing the area of contact and allowing oxide to form at the interface.’
    • ‘Similarly, cooled rock contracts, experiences an increase in density, and tends to sink.’
    • ‘In the case of the Sun or some similar large object, as it contracts there is a decrease in its gravitational energy because the composite matter is moving closer to the middle, and that energy has to go somewhere.’
    • ‘Since the recession began in March 2001, the labor force has contracted by 1.2 percent.’
    • ‘As the air cools, it contracts and loses some of its capacity, so the moisture is given off to cooler surrounding surfaces.’
    shrink, get smaller, become smaller
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 (of a muscle) become shorter and tighter in order to effect movement of part of the body.
      ‘the heart is a muscle that contracts about seventy times a minute’
      with object ‘then contract your lower abdominal muscles’
      • ‘When your heart contracts, it ejects blood from the pumping chambers (ventricles).’
      • ‘This stimulation causes electrical activity in the muscle, which in turn causes the muscle to contract or tighten.’
      • ‘Breath-holding helps create a firm base upon which the muscles can effectively contract.’
      • ‘For example, as an individual lands from a jump, the quadriceps muscle contracts, protecting the knee.’
      • ‘The treated muscles can't contract so new wrinkles won't form either.’
      • ‘Spasms shook every inch of my skin, and my muscles contracted painfully.’
      • ‘Between meals, a mammal's intestinal muscles normally contract rhythmically to sweep out bacteria and waste.’
      • ‘Raise your hips only as high as you can while still forcefully contracting your abs for a second or two.’
      • ‘The heart works as a pump, with its muscular walls contracting to force the movement of blood.’
      • ‘As your muscles contract during exercise, they use sugar for energy.’
      • ‘He then contracted his abs to raise his legs until they were perpendicular.’
      • ‘The more slowly muscles contract, the more force they are able to deliver, which is why heavy weights can only be lifted slowly.’
      • ‘To see closer objects, this muscle contracts to thicken the lens.’
      • ‘It increases the heart rate, makes muscles contract more forcefully and enhances the general state of alertness.’
      • ‘When these muscles contract, they don't directly push the head forward.’
      • ‘Electrical stimulation causes the heart muscles to contract or pump.’
      • ‘Each time the calf and thigh muscles contract when walking, veins deep inside the leg are squeezed.’
      • ‘When people laugh, their muscles contract, their pulse rates rise and their breathing is faster.’
      • ‘Mucus production increases and the muscles surrounding the airways contract, narrowing the space through which air can flow.’
      • ‘You are not lifting weights; you are stretching and then contracting your muscles as hard as possible.’
      tighten, become tighter, make tighter, tense, flex, constrict, draw in, become narrower, make narrower, narrow
      wrinkle, knit, crease, corrugate
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    2. 1.2with object Shorten (a word or phrase) by combination or elision.
      ‘“quasistellar object” was soon contracted to “quasar.”’
      • ‘I haven't checked the audio to see whether ‘is’ was contracted or not in those examples.’
      • ‘The various sources consulted differ in its further evolution; some say the word was contracted further to aan't, others say an't (pronounced ahnt).’
      • ‘This is someone who is so expert on the subject of sex that the two words become contracted into one - sexpert.’
      • ‘Incidentally, Hocus Pocus was itself contracted during the eighteenth century into the word ‘Hoax.’’
      shorten, abbreviate, cut, reduce, abridge, truncate
      View synonyms
  • 2no object Enter into a formal and legally binding agreement.

    ‘the local authority will contract with a wide range of agencies to provide services’
    • ‘Once expired, the lessee could begin to contract with new suppliers.’
    • ‘Under the deed, signatories will refuse to contract with breaching suppliers until the problems are fixed.’
    • ‘Some large wineries, for example, contract with hundreds of grape growers.’
    • ‘The goal was to contract with one vendor that could provide a consistent solution in all markets.’
    • ‘They also contract with local women to supply cakes and with local artisans to make Val Day mementos such as carved wall hangings.’
    • ‘Building owners want to contract with service providers that will be around to honor their commitments.’
    • ‘Local governments can also contract with private businesses for other services, like trash collection.’
    • ‘Biotech companies also contract with individual farmers to grow pharma crops.’
    • ‘Vendors contract with one of nine independent laboratory-testing facilities.’
    • ‘If you need help, you can get it from just about any of the tradespeople you contract with to deal with other parts of the project.’
    • ‘We then moved to the situation where governments now contract with non-profit organisations to deliver a specified service.’
    • ‘Now with open access, the mining companies wish to handle the traffics themselves, or contract with third parties.’
    • ‘Many have found it easier and less risky to contract with a vendor that already handles such issues.’
    • ‘We have tried to contract with them several times for specific jobs.’
    • ‘In others, employers contract privately to provide the benefits.’
    • ‘The unions don't contract with the government, therefore they don't have to comply with it.’
    • ‘We contract with utilities to supply water, gas, or electricity at specified service levels for specified costs.’
    • ‘Clients contract with one of the member firms, whose services are supplemented by the resources of the others.’
    • ‘He told how they contract with area farmers to guarantee a steady supply.’
    • ‘The defendant has not returned the software and intends to use it until it can contract with a new vendor.’
    undertake, pledge, promise, covenant, commit oneself, engage
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1 Secure specified rights or undertake specified obligations in a formal and legally binding agreement.
      ‘a buyer may contract for the right to withhold payment’
      ‘the paper had contracted to publish extracts from the diaries’
      • ‘The company wants to contract for as much technological capability as it can.’
      • ‘More than one-half expect to contract for more services in the coming years.’
      • ‘Under such a system, film-makers form their own group to contract for a film production.’
      • ‘Many large online travel agencies also may contract for a block of rooms at a special rate.’
      • ‘It is always open to minority shareholders to contract for such representation.’
      • ‘It does not receive the funding or the authority to contract for research at civilian universities that it needs.’
      • ‘They should also track their hotspot usage so that the company will know what to contract for when the market matures further.’
      • ‘Planning permission has already been obtained for the terminal and British Gas intends to contract for the use of 2.2 million tonnes a year of capacity.’
      • ‘Is it possible to contract for profit with poor people without being labeled an exploiter?’
      • ‘The factory should be self contained and contract for, order and pay for all materials obtained locally.’
      • ‘In October 1986 the government introduced the Goods and Services Tax charged on almost everything you buy or contract for.’
      • ‘That is, you could contract for how many calls you would receive, and what kind of calls.’
      • ‘Physicians do not know how to contract for these technologies.’
      • ‘Sanctions on a country could affect its ability to contract for concessional lending.’
      • ‘Probably the most important part of this bill is the provision for the Electricity Commission to contract for reserve electricity.’
      • ‘I mean, it's just not on, it's not the real world, and when you contract for something you expect to pay that price, and you expect to get it on time.’
      • ‘These policies should also stipulate that you own all rights to the software that you contract for development.’
      • ‘It must be possible for parties effectively to contract for the release of all and any claims, whether based on known facts or unknown facts.’
      • ‘The committee has also made explicit provision for Transpower to contract for generation and to manage grid reliability.’
      • ‘If you contract for a simple change from a big vendor, you can be in for spending a lot of money.’
      undertake, pledge, promise, covenant, commit oneself, engage
      View synonyms
    2. 2.2 Impose an obligation on (someone) to do something by means of a formal agreement.
      ‘health authorities contract a hospital to treat a specific number of patients’
      • ‘Camp Henry contracted a wildlife biologist to study the property and create a land stewardship plan.’
      • ‘He was contracted to produce films of a certain length and that week, he handed in one that was more than double the agreed-upon running time.’
      • ‘In 1985 he was contracted to film crocodiles and dolphins in China, the beginning of an amazing career spanning nearly 20 years.’
      • ‘I forget what they called the deal, but he was contracted to produce something like 10 fairly low-budget features for MGM.’
      • ‘He wanted something like that and contracted me to build it.’
      • ‘If a local authority contracts a builder to construct a certain amount of houses they must pay the full cost not just a deposit.’
      • ‘He is officially contracted to work for the company for another 12 months - although few observers expect him to serve out the full year.’
      • ‘If the amount of cargo is greater than the hauling capacity of available military trucks, civilian trucks are contracted to complete the mission.’
      • ‘In Swindon, there is a strong network provided by Trio Childcare, which is contracted by the council to advise and support childminders and parents.’
      • ‘The builders were contracted by Westlea Housing Association to build five houses on land behind Ashe Crescent.’
      • ‘He complained about the wild dogs and the National Parks & Wildlife Service contracted a local man to trap and shoot the dogs.’
      • ‘Drivers are contracted to work Monday to Saturday.’
      • ‘The council later contracted another firm to complete the work, but at a cost of some €20m.’
      • ‘Channel Seven contracted an outside lawyer to work up a draft agreement and has refused to negotiate on anything falling outside its scope.’
      • ‘She was contracted to work in a garment factory in the United Arab Emirates.’
      • ‘I contracted him in November to remove my windows and replace them with French-styled steel windows.’
      • ‘She was contracted to work 24 hours a week on a permanent basis.’
      • ‘Fourthly, for the medium term, a non-governmental organisation has been contracted to provide six intensive support rehabilitation beds.’
      • ‘I am contracted to be here for a year - who knows what will happen after that?’
      • ‘In 1999 the Council contracted Bedminster to provide an alternative waste system.’
    3. 2.3contract something outwith object Arrange for work to be done by another organization.
      ‘local authorities will have to contract out waste management’
      • ‘I thought the whole point was to contract these services out so the bidders would compete for the contracts using their own existing capital and thus keep the price down for the government, ultimately saving the taxpayers a bit of money.’
      • ‘But in future the work will be contracted out to shoe repair giant Timpsons, which has its own repair factories in Manchester and Luton.’
      • ‘The university proposed that current staff positions could be contracted out with four months' notice, a proposal which made the staff feel threatened.’
      • ‘They are employed by someone else and their services are contracted out.’
      • ‘The government contracted out the accommodation of delegates to a private company, Turners.’
      • ‘At my workplace, food and housekeeping services have been contracted out to subsidiaries of Compass Group, a British multinational corporation.’
      • ‘An automated watering system was introduced around five years ago and the project was contracted out.’
      • ‘The Corps of Engineers and Project Contracting Office program contracts the work out to local laborers, with the Corps of Engineers Gulf Region District overseeing the construction.’
      • ‘However, the police have chosen to contract the work out to the private sector rather than set up their own civilian-run scheme.’
      • ‘Lancashire County Council funds road gritting by contracting it out to district councils.’
      • ‘But there is a greater possibility that areas of the service such as prisoner escorts could be contracted out.’
      • ‘This may ultimately lead to farmers doing the job themselves rather than contracting it out.’
      • ‘Whether you're planning to tackle needed facility repairs in house or whether you're going to contract the work out, the first few steps may well determine the success of the final product.’
      • ‘Leaders must ensure that appropriate organizational expertise is retained as processes and programs are contracted out.’
      • ‘This element of the project will be contracted out to an independent company who will carry out the fieldwork.’
      • ‘Other courses have been contracted out to private suppliers.’
      • ‘You should budget for this part of the project to ensure that if you decide to contract the work out, the contractor makes provisions to handle the material in the manner that you planned.’
      • ‘Further, the government system requires that projects are contracted out by private enterprises by a bidding process.’
      • ‘Some institutions contract the work out to casual labour with little continuity and stability for the student.’
      • ‘A bureau spokesman said the number of students attending evening adult education courses was declining before the services were contracted out.’
      subcontract, outsource, farm out, assign to others
      View synonyms
    4. 2.4with object Formally enter into (a marriage)
      ‘before Fanny met him, he had contracted a disastrous liaison and marriage’
      • ‘The infatuated prince subsequently caused an international incident by contracting a bigamous marriage with her.’
      • ‘The queen's cousin, Prince Michael of Kent, married in a civil ceremony in Vienna, but no member of the royal family has ever contracted a civil marriage in Britain.’
      • ‘In the countryside, on the contrary, more hands were needed to work the fields in grain-growing regions, and males contracted marriages at younger ages to increase the rural labour supply.’
      • ‘Louisbourg women usually contracted their first marriages at less than 20, a couple of years earlier than eighteenth-century Canadian women.’
      • ‘Under English law, the minimum age for contracting a valid marriage is 16 for both men and women.’
    5. 2.5with object Enter into (a friendship or other relationship)
      ‘the patterns of social relationships contracted by men and women differ’
      • ‘To contract a friendship, I'll have to have an idea what I think is important in a friendship.’
      • ‘How could Heidi have been aware that she was contracting marriage - the requirement for valid consent - if she thought that she was merely contracting an engagement?’
      • ‘However, the ease with which a women can contract sexual liaisons does not directly translate into a socially sanctioned pregnancy and birth.’
  • 3with object Catch or develop (a disease or infectious agent)

    ‘three people contracted a killer virus’
    • ‘Elderly people are at particular risk of serious illness if they contract influenza.’
    • ‘Health chiefs say the number of people contracting the virus since then has remained low.’
    • ‘The leaflets offer advice and tips on safe farm practices so that farmers can reduce the chances of they and their families contracting these germs.’
    • ‘The virus is spread by infected blood, and numerous ways to contract the disease have been identified.’
    • ‘About 10,000 Irish patients contract the superbug each year.’
    • ‘A baby is in intensive care and has somehow contracted meningitis while there.’
    • ‘By then, over 30,000 people had already contracted AIDS, and it was too late to stop the epidemic.’
    • ‘Two other patients are critically ill after contracting the disease through infected organs from the donor.’
    • ‘He had been admitted to hospital after suffering a stroke on January 2 before then contracting pneumonia.’
    • ‘More than 100 haemophiliacs contracted HIV and more than 260 contracted hepatitis C from contaminated blood products.’
    • ‘If you think you've contracted an infectious disease, contact your doctor.’
    • ‘Another danger is contracting an illness while on the road.’
    • ‘Rarely, an infant can contract the infection during delivery and develop a fever after birth.’
    • ‘Most of the human victims of bird flu appear to have contracted the disease through close contact with chickens.’
    • ‘Ninety per cent of travellers who contract malaria do not become ill until after they return home.’
    • ‘His early education was restricted by severe asthma and he contracted tuberculosis when he started medical school.’
    • ‘At age 4, she contracted double pneumonia and scarlet fever simultaneously and almost died.’
    • ‘Reduce your chances of contracting the flu bug by getting a yearly flu vaccine from your doctor's office or local clinic.’
    • ‘Humans can also contract the disease, by breathing in the infection, and then pass it on by kissing.’
    • ‘In each case, when later exposed to full blown tuberculosis, the mice all contracted the disease.’
    develop, catch, get, pick up, come down with, become infected with, fall ill with, be taken ill with, be struck down with, be stricken with, succumb to
    View synonyms
  • 4with object Become liable to pay (a debt)

    ‘he contracted a debt of $3,300’
    • ‘Congress could not even pay the interest on its domestic debt and was financing its foreign debts only by contracting additional loans.’
    • ‘Currently the minister of Finance and National Planning has the mandate to contract debts for the nation whenever need arises.’
    • ‘He says that he contracted the debt on behalf of the ruling party.’
    • ‘One result of this is that the proportion of debt that is contracted on a short term basis rises.’
    • ‘Meanwhile, a debt had been contracted and four years later the papacy sent Pippin the bill.’
    • ‘Now, he of course had to do something about the debts he'd contracted.’
    • ‘It was held by many to undermine one of the elementary principles of economic life - that every person is bound to pay debts contracted insofar as this is possible.’
    • ‘Only one in five elite Marylanders contracted debts during their lifetimes that forced the selling of land or slaves.’
    • ‘When you contract a debt for a fixed period, write it down.’
    • ‘The debt contracted to fund the war had been paid for in just over 19 years.’
    • ‘How unjust to do so by pillaging the church, an institution that was neither responsible for contracting the debt nor had benefited from the deficit expenditures.’
    • ‘As for the gild's financial influence, some jurats were indeed occasionally debtors of the gild, but their debts were contracted as gildsmen not as jurats.’
    • ‘And on the other hand, they don't protect our identities, so we can end up liable for debts we didn't contract.’
    • ‘Many debts contracted then were still being serviced three generations later, and were only liquidated by the Revolution.’
    • ‘And why should we, struggling American citizens of today, be bound by debts created by a past ruling elite who contracted these debts at our expense?’
    • ‘As stated earlier, much of the debt was contracted by undemocratic governments and oppressive regimes.’
    • ‘A husband shall answer in court in pleas concerning debts contracted by his wife before and after their marriage.’
    • ‘Public debt - loans contracted by governments to pay their armies, borrowing by cities and rural communities to pay their taxes - had risen alarmingly.’
    • ‘So-called entrepreneurs do the buying and selling, pay the workers, contract debts and pay interest.’
    • ‘The debt which America has contracted, compared with the cause she has gained, and the advantages to flow from it, ought scarcely to be mentioned.’
    incur, become liable to pay, acquire, fall into
    View synonyms

Origin

Middle English: via Old French from Latin contractus, from contract- ‘drawn together, tightened’, from the verb contrahere, from con- ‘together’ + trahere ‘draw’.

Pronunciation

contract

/ˈkäntrakt//ˈkɑntrækt/