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verb (used without object)
  1. to struggle in opposition: to contend with the enemy for control of the port.
  2. to strive in rivalry; compete; vie: to contend for first prize.
  3. to strive in debate; dispute earnestly: to contend against falsehood.
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verb (used with object)
  1. to assert or maintain earnestly: He contended that taxes were too high.
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Origin of contend

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 formscon·tend·er, nouncon·tend·ing·ly, adverbnon·con·tend·ing, adjectivepre·con·tend, verb (used without object)re·con·tend, verb (used without object)un·con·tend·ed, adjectiveun·con·tend·ing, adjective
Can be confusedcontend contest


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Synonym study

2. See compete.


3. agree.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

vie, confront, cope, resist, grapple, oppose, meet, argue, dispute, claim, urge, defend, charge, insist, assert, say, maintain, allege, tell, withstand

Examples from the Web for contend

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Historical Examples

British Dictionary definitions for contend


  1. (intr often foll by with) to struggle in rivalry, battle, etc; vie
  2. to argue earnestly; debate
  3. (tr; may take a clause as object) to assert or maintain
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Derived Formscontender, nouncontendingly, 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

Word Origin and History for 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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper