put out a contract on, Slang. to hire or attempt to hire an assassin to kill (someone): The mob put out a contract on the informer.

Origin of contract

1275–1325; (noun) Middle English (< Anglo-French) < Latin contractus undertaking a transaction, agreement, equivalent to contrac-, variant stem of contrahere to draw in, bring together, enter into an agreement (con- con- + trahere to drag, pull; cf. traction) + -tus suffix of v. action; (v.) < Latin contractus, past participle of contrahere
Related formscon·tract·ee, nouncon·tract·i·ble, adjectivecon·tract·i·bil·i·ty, con·tract·i·ble·ness, nouncon·tract·i·bly, adverbnon·con·tract, adjectiveo·ver·con·tract, verb (used with object)post·con·tract, nounre·con·tract, verb (used with object)

Synonyms for contract

Synonym study

1. See agreement. 10. Contract, compress, concentrate, condense imply retaining original content but reducing the amount of space occupied. Contract means to cause to draw more closely together: to contract a muscle. Compress suggests fusing to become smaller by means of fairly uniform external pressure: to compress gases into liquid form. Concentrate implies causing to gather around a point: to concentrate troops near an objective; to concentrate one's strength. Condense implies increasing the compactness, or thickening the consistency of a homogeneous mass: to condense milk. It is also used to refer to the reducing in length of a book or the like.

Antonyms for contract

10. expand. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for contract

Contemporary Examples of contract

Historical Examples of contract

  • At any rate, she has less freedom and more obligations under her contract.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • It then begins to shrink and contract with the greatest uniformity.

  • The contract, however, seems not to have been carried out by the composer.


    Edward J. Dent

  • I might give you a thousand for a contract, an' losin' and winnin' mounts when you had a leg up.


    W. A. Fraser

  • You sign this contract, which is exactly like all the others we use, and I'll hand over your check.


    Mr. and Mrs. Haldeman-Julius

British Dictionary definitions for contract


verb (kənˈtrækt)

to make or become smaller, narrower, shorter, etcmetals contract as the temperature is reduced
(ˈkɒntrækt) (when intr, sometimes foll by for; when tr, may take an infinitive) to enter into an agreement with (a person, company, etc) to deliver (goods or services) or to do (something) on mutually agreed and binding terms, often in writing
to draw or be drawn together; coalesce or cause to coalesce
(tr) to acquire, incur, or become affected by (a disease, liability, debt, etc)
(tr) to shorten (a word or phrase) by the omission of letters or syllables, usually indicated in writing by an apostrophe
phonetics to unite (two vowels) or (of two vowels) to be united within a word or at a word boundary so that a new long vowel or diphthong is formed
(tr) to wrinkle or draw together (the brow or a muscle)
(tr) to arrange (a marriage) for; betroth

noun (ˈkɒntrækt)

a formal agreement between two or more parties
a document that states the terms of such an agreement
the branch of law treating of contracts
marriage considered as a formal agreement
  1. (in the bidding sequence before play) the highest bid, which determines trumps and the number of tricks one side must try to make
  2. the number and suit of these tricks
  1. a criminal agreement to kill a particular person in return for an agreed sum of money
  2. (as modifier)a contract killing
Derived Formscontractible, adjectivecontractibly, adverb

Word Origin for contract

C16: from Latin contractus agreement, something drawn up, from contrahere to draw together, from trahere to draw
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 contract

late 14c., "make narrow, draw together;" early 15c. "make an agreement;" from Middle French contracter, from Latin contractus, past participle of contrahere "to draw together, combine, make an agreement" (see contract (n.)). Related: Contracted; contracting.


early 14c., from Old French contract (Modern French contrat), from Latin contractus "a contract, agreement," from past participle of contrahere "to draw together," metaphorically, "to make a bargain," from com- "together" (see com-) + trahere "to draw" (see tract (n.1)). U.S. underworld sense of "arrangement to kill someone" first recorded 1940.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for contract


[kən-trăkt, kŏntrăkt′]


To reduce in size by drawing together.
To become reduced in size by or as if by being drawn together, as the pupil of the eye.
To acquire or incur by contagion or infection.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Culture definitions for contract


A legally binding agreement between two or more parties.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.