a. An agreement between two or more parties, especially one that is written and enforceable by law.
b. The writing or document containing such an agreement.
2. The branch of law dealing with formal agreements between parties.
3. Marriage as a formal agreement; betrothal.
a. The last and highest bid of a suit in one hand in bridge.
b. The number of tricks thus bid.
c. Contract bridge.
5. A paid assignment to murder someone: put out a contract on the mobster's life.
v. (kən-trăkt, kŏntrăkt′) con·tract·ed, con·tract·ing, con·tracts
1. To enter into by contract; establish or settle by formal agreement: contract a marriage.
2. To acquire or incur: contract obligations; contract a serious illness.
a. To reduce in size by drawing together; shrink.
b. To pull together; wrinkle.
4. Grammar To shorten (a word or words) by omitting or combining some of the letters or sounds, as do not to don't.
1. To enter into or make an agreement: contract for garbage collection.
2. To become reduced in size by or as if by being drawn together: The pupils of the patient's eyes contracted.
[Middle English, from Latin contractus, past participle of contrahere, to draw together, make a contract : com-, com- + trahere, to draw.]
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.