1. The act or an instance of striving in controversy or debate: "Amid all the hand-wringing and contention about whether what the bees do is really 'language,' no one seems to question whether it's really 'dance'" (Marlene Zuk). See Synonyms at conflict.
a. A striving to win in competition; rivalry: The teams met in fierce contention for first place.
b. A condition in which winning a competition is possible: Six teams are in contention to win the gold medal.
3. An assertion put forward in argument: It is my contention that they are lying.
[Middle English contencioun, from Old French contention, from Latin contentiō, contentiōn-, from contentus, past participle of contendere, to contend; see CONTEND.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
The American Heritage Dictionary Blog
Check out our blog, updated regularly, for new words and revised definitions, interesting images from the 5th edition, discussions of usage, and more.
American Heritage Dictionary Products
The American Heritage Dictionary, 5th Edition
The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms
The American Heritage Roget's Thesaurus
Curious George's Dictionary
The American Heritage Children's Dictionary
The American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots
The American Heritage Student Grammar Dictionary
The American Heritage Desk Dictionary + Thesaurus
The American Heritage Science Dictionary
The American Heritage Dictionary of Business Terms
The American Heritage Student Dictionary
The American Heritage Essential Student Thesaurus