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Recorded since 1631, from Medieval Latin contemporarius, from Latin con- (with, together) + temporarius (of time), from tempus (time)


  • IPA: /kənˈtɛm.pəˌɹɛɹ.i/


contemporary (comparative more contemporary, superlative most contemporary)

  1. From the same time period, coexistent in time.
    • Cowley
      A grove born with himself he sees, / And loves his old contemporary trees.
    • Strype
      This king was contemporary with the greatest monarchs of Europe.
  2. Modern, of the present age.
    • 2012 January 1, Robert L. Dorit, “Rereading Darwin”, in American Scientist[1], volume 100, number 1, page 23:
      We live our lives in three dimensions for our threescore and ten allotted years. Yet every branch of contemporary science, from statistics to cosmology, alludes to processes that operate on scales outside of human experience: the millisecond and the nanometer, the eon and the light-year.
    • 2012 May 24, Nathan Rabin, “Film: Reviews: Men In Black 3”, in The Onion AV Club[2]:
      Men In Black 3 finagles its way out of this predicament by literally resetting the clock with a time-travel premise that makes Will Smith both a contemporary intergalactic cop in the late 1960s and a stranger to Josh Brolin, who plays the younger version of Smith’s stone-faced future partner, Tommy Lee Jones.
  3. Relatively recent




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contemporary (plural contemporaries)

  1. Someone or something living at the same time, or of roughly the same age as another.
    Cervantes was a contemporary of Shakespeare.
    The early mammals inherited the earth by surviving their saurian contemporaries.
  2. Something existing at the same time.


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