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[kuh n-tend] /kənˈtɛnd/
verb (used without object)
to struggle in opposition:
to contend with the enemy for control of the port.
to strive in rivalry; compete; vie:
to contend for first prize.
to strive in debate; dispute earnestly:
to contend against falsehood.
verb (used with object)
to assert or maintain earnestly:
He contended that taxes were too high.
Origin of contend
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English contenden < Anglo-French contendre < Latin contendere to compete, strive, draw tight, equivalent to con- con- + tendere to stretch; see tend1
Related forms
contender, noun
contendingly, adverb
noncontending, adjective
precontend, verb (used without object)
recontend, verb (used without object)
uncontended, adjective
uncontending, adjective
Can be confused
contend, contest.
1. wrestle, grapple, battle, fight. 3. argue, wrangle. 4. hold, claim.
3. agree.
Synonym Study
2. See compete. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for contender
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Always one contender driven to the wall, his cities turned to ashes, his lands laid waste.

    The Littlest Rebel Edward Peple
  • He would never develop into such a contender; nor does one real-life fighter in fifty.

    Buff: A Collie and other dog-stories Albert Payson Terhune
  • As a servant of the State, as well as a contender for the people, he was close to the tangled heart of the intricate struggle.

    Mountain Clement Wood
  • Henceforth, he could be only a looker on where he had so fondly figured himself as a contender.

  • In fact, within a few days the situation was simplified by the practical elimination of Pryme as a contender.

    Left Guard Gilbert Ralph Henry Barbour
British Dictionary definitions for contender


(intransitive) often foll by with. to struggle in rivalry, battle, etc; vie
to argue earnestly; debate
(transitive; may take a clause as object) to assert or maintain
Derived Forms
contender, noun
contendingly, adverb
Word Origin
C15: from Latin contendere to strive, from com- with + tendere to stretch, aim
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for contender

1540s, agent noun from contend.



mid-15c., from Old French contendre, from Latin contendere "to stretch out, strive after," from com-, intensive prefix (see com-), + tendere "to stretch" (see tenet). Related: Contended; contending.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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