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Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English, from Old French contract, from Latin contractum, past participle of contrahere ‎(to bring together, to bring about, to conclude a bargain), from con- ‎(with, together) + trahere ‎(to draw, to pull).



contract ‎(plural contracts)

  1. An agreement between two or more parties, to perform a specific job or work order, often temporary or of fixed duration and usually governed by a written agreement.
    Marriage is a contract.
    • 2013 August 10, Lexington, “Keeping the mighty honest”, in The Economist, volume 408, number 8848:
      British journalists shun complete respectability, feeling a duty to be ready to savage the mighty, or rummage through their bins. Elsewhere in Europe, government contracts and subsidies ensure that press barons will only defy the mighty so far.
  2. (law) An agreement which the law will enforce in some way. A legally binding contract must contain at least one promise, i.e., a commitment or offer, by an offeror to and accepted by an offeree to do something in the future. A contract is thus executory rather than executed.
  3. (law) A part of legal studies dealing with laws and jurisdiction related to contracts.
  4. (informal) An order, usually given to a hired assassin, to kill someone.
    The mafia boss put a contract out on the man who betrayed him.
  5. (bridge) The declarer's undertaking to win the number of tricks bid with a stated suit as trump.
  • (agreement that is legally binding): agreement
  • (agreement that is legally binding): bailment
Derived terms[edit]


contract ‎(not comparable)

  1. (obsolete) Contracted; affianced; betrothed.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Shakespeare to this entry?)
  2. (obsolete) Not abstract; concrete.
    • Robert Recorde, The Whetſtone of Witte, 1557:
      But now in eche kinde of these, there are certaine nombers named Abſtracte: and other called nombers Contracte.

Etymology 2[edit]

From Middle English, from Middle French contracter, from Latin contractum, past participle of contrahere ‎(to bring together, to bring about, to conclude a bargain), from con- ‎(with, together) + trahere ‎(to draw, to pull). the verb developed after the noun, and originally meant only "draw together"; the sense "make a contract with" developed later.



contract ‎(third-person singular simple present contracts, present participle contracting, simple past and past participle contracted)

  1. (transitive, intransitive) To draw together or nearer; to shorten, narrow, or lessen.
    The snail's body contracted into its shell.
    to contract one's sphere of action
    • Wordsworth
      Years contracting to a moment.
    • Dr. H. More
      In all things desuetude doth contract and narrow our faculties.
  2. (grammar) To shorten by omitting a letter or letters or by reducing two or more vowels or syllables to one.
    The word "cannot" is often contracted into "can't".
  3. (transitive) To enter into a contract with.
  4. (transitive) To enter into, with mutual obligations; to make a bargain or covenant for.
    • Hakluyt
      We have contracted an inviolable amity, peace, and league with the aforesaid queen.
    • Strype
      Many persons [] had contracted marriage within the degrees of consanguinity [] prohibited by law.
  5. (intransitive) To make an agreement or contract; to covenant; to agree; to bargain.
    to contract for carrying the mail
  6. (transitive) To bring on; to incur; to acquire.
    She contracted the habit of smoking in her teens.
    to contract a debt
    • Alexander Pope
      Each from each contract new strength and light.
    • Jonathan Swift
      Such behaviour we contract by having much conversed with persons of high stature.
  7. (transitive) To gain or acquire (an illness).
    • 1999, Davidson C. Umeh, Protect Your Life: A Health Handbook for Law Enforcement Professionals (page 69)
      An officer contracted hepatitis B and died after handling the blood-soaked clothing of a homicide victim []
  8. To draw together so as to wrinkle; to knit.
    • Shakespeare
      Thou didst contract and purse thy brow.
  9. To betroth; to affiance.
    • Shakespeare
      The truth is, she and I, long since contracted, / Are now so sure, that nothing can dissolve us.



From Middle Dutch contract, from Old French contract, from Latin contractum, past participle of contrahō ‎(to bring together, to bring about, to conclude a bargain).


  • (file)
  • Hyphenation: con‧tract


contract n ‎(plural contracten, diminutive contractje n)

  1. contract