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

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

Synonyms for contend

Synonym study

2. See compete.

Antonyms for contend

3. agree. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for contender

rival, competition, challenger, contestant, adversary, opponent

Examples from the Web for contender

Contemporary Examples of contender

Historical Examples of contender

  • 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



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

Word Origin for contend

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.



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