[ kuhn-tem-puh-rer-ee ]
See synonyms for: contemporarycontemporaries on

  1. existing, occurring, or living at the same time; belonging to the same time: Newton's discovery of the calculus was contemporary with that of Leibniz.

  2. of about the same age or date: a Georgian table with a contemporary wig stand.

  1. of the present time; modern: a lecture on the contemporary novel.

noun,plural con·tem·po·rar·ies.
  1. a person belonging to the same time or period with another or others.

  2. a person of the same age as another.

Origin of contemporary

First recorded in 1625–35; from Late Latin contemporārius, equivalent to Latin con- con- + tempor- (stem of tempus “time”; cf. temporal1) + -ārius -ary

synonym study For contemporary

1. Contemporary, contemporaneous, coeval, coincident all mean happening or existing at the same time. Contemporary often refers to persons or their acts or achievements: Hemingway and Fitzgerald, though contemporary, shared few values. Contemporaneous is applied chiefly to events: the rise of industrialism, contemporaneous with the spread of steam power. Coeval refers either to very long periods of time—an era or an eon—or to remote or long ago times: coeval stars, shining for millenia with equal brilliance; coeval with the dawning of civilization. Coincident means occurring at the same time but without causal or other relationships: prohibition, coincident with the beginning of the 1920s.

Other words for contemporary

Other words from contemporary

  • con·tem·po·rar·i·ly, adverb
  • con·tem·po·rar·i·ness, noun
  • non·con·tem·po·rar·y, adjective, noun, plural non·con·tem·po·rar·ies.
  • post·con·tem·po·rar·y, adjective
  • ul·tra·con·tem·po·rar·y, adjective, noun, plural ul·tra·con·tem·po·rar·ies.
  • un·con·tem·po·rar·y, adjective

Words that may be confused with contemporary

Words Nearby contemporary Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use contemporary in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for contemporary


/ (kənˈtɛmprərɪ) /

  1. belonging to the same age; living or occurring in the same period of time

  2. existing or occurring at the present time

  1. conforming to modern or current ideas in style, fashion, design, etc

  2. having approximately the same age as one another

nounplural -raries
  1. a person living at the same time or of approximately the same age as another

  2. something that is contemporary

  1. journalism a rival newspaper

Origin of contemporary

C17: from Medieval Latin contemporārius, from Latin com- together + temporārius relating to time, from tempus time

usage For contemporary

Since contemporary can mean either of the same period or of the present period, it is best to avoid this word where ambiguity might arise, as in a production of Othello in contemporary dress. Modern dress or Elizabethan dress should be used in this example to avoid ambiguity

Derived forms of contemporary

  • contemporarily, adverb
  • contemporariness, noun

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