from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The act of contracting or the state of being contracted.
  • n. A word, as won't from will not, or phrase, as o'clock from of the clock, formed by omitting or combining some of the sounds of a longer phrase.
  • n. The formation of such a word.
  • n. Physiology The shortening and thickening of functioning muscle or muscle fiber.
  • n. A period of decreased business activity.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A reversible reduction in size.
  • n. A period of economic decline or negative growth.
  • n. A shortening of a muscle when it is used.
  • n. A strong and often painful shortening of the uterine muscles prior to or during childbirth.
  • n. A process whereby one or more sounds of a free morpheme (a word) are lost or reduced, such that it becomes a bound morpheme (a clitic) that attaches phonologically to an adjacent word.
  • n. A word with omitted letters replaced by an apostrophe, usually resulting from the above process.
  • n. Contracting a disease.
  • n. Syncope, the loss of sounds from within a word.
  • n. The acquisition of something, generally negative.
  • n. A distinct stage of wound healing, wherein the wound edges are gradually pulled together.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The act or process of contracting, shortening, or shrinking; the state of being contracted.
  • n. The process of shortening an operation.
  • n. The act of incurring or becoming subject to, as liabilities, obligation, debts, etc.; the process of becoming subject to.
  • n. Something contracted or abbreviated, as a word or phrase; -- as, plenipo for plenipotentiary; crim. con. for criminal conversation, etc.
  • n. The shortening of a word, or of two words, by the omission of a letter or letters, or by reducing two or more vowels or syllables to one; as, ne'er for never; can't for can not; don't for do not; it's for it is.
  • n. A marriage contract.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The act of drawing together or shrinking; the condition of becoming smaller in extent or dimensions through the nearer approach to one another of the parts; the state of being contracted; a decrease in volume, bulk, or dimensions, as from loss of heat.
  • n. The act of making short, of abridging, or of reducing within a narrower compass by any means; the act of lessening or making smaller in amount; the state of being so lessened; reduction; diminution; abridgment: as, a contraction of the currency.
  • n. Specifically A shortening of a word in pronunciation or in writing: as, can't is a contraction of cannot.
  • n. In ancient prosody, the use of a single long time or syllable in place of two short times.
  • n. The act of making a contract; the state of being under a contract, especially one of marriage.
  • n. In surgery, an abnormal and permanent alteration in the relative position and forms of parts, arising from various causes, as in ankylosis, distortion, clubfoot, wryneck, etc.
  • n. In mathematics, any device for abridging the mechanical labor of making calculations by diminishing the number of characters written down.
  • n. The act or process of contracting or acquiring: as, the contraction of a debt.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. the process or result of becoming smaller or pressed together
  • n. (physiology) a shortening or tensing of a part or organ (especially of a muscle or muscle fiber)
  • n. a word formed from two or more words by omitting or combining some sounds
  • n. the act of decreasing (something) in size or volume or quantity or scope


From Latin contractiō. (Wiktionary)



Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.