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 ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.