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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


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.

  • 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.


    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


  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 contender


1540s, agent noun from contend.

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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