Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A struggle for superiority or victory between rivals.
  • n. A competition, especially one in which entrants perform separately and are rated by judges. See Synonyms at conflict.
  • transitive v. To compete or strive for.
  • transitive v. To call into question and take an active stand against; dispute or challenge: contest a will. See Synonyms at oppose.
  • intransitive v. To struggle or compete; contend: contested with other bidders for the antique.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Controversy; debate.
  • n. Struggle for superiority; combat.
  • n. A competition.
  • v. To contend.
  • v. To call into question; to oppose.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Earnest dispute; strife in argument; controversy; debate; altercation.
  • n. Earnest struggle for superiority, victory, defense, etc.; competition; emulation; strife in arms; conflict; combat; encounter.
  • intransitive v. To engage in contention, or emulation; to contend; to strive; to vie; to emulate; -- followed usually by with.
  • transitive v. To make a subject of dispute, contention, litigation, or emulation; to contend for; to call in question; to controvert; to oppose; to dispute.
  • transitive v. To strive earnestly to hold or maintain; to struggle to defend.
  • transitive v. To make a subject of litigation; to defend, as a suit; to dispute or resist; as a claim, by course of law; to controvert.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To make a subject of emulation, contention, or dispute; enter into a competition for; compete or strive for: as, to contest a prize; to contest an election (see contested).
  • To contend or strive for in arms; fight or do battle for; strive to win or hold; struggle to defend: as, the troops contested every inch of ground.
  • . To argue in opposition to; controvert; litigate; oppose; call in question; challenge; dispute: as, the advocate contested every point; his right to the property was contested in the courts.
  • Synonyms. To debate, challenge.
  • . To strive; contend; dispute: followed by with.
  • . To vie; strive in rivalry.
  • n. . Strife; struggle for victory or superiority, or in defense; a struggle in arms.
  • n. . Dispute; debate; controversy; strife in argument; disagreement.
  • n. Synonyms Conflict, Combat, etc. (see battle), encounter. See strife.2. Altercation; dissension; quarrel.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. an occasion on which a winner is selected from among two or more contestants
  • n. a struggle between rivals
  • v. to make the subject of dispute, contention, or litigation

Etymologies

Probably from French conteste, from contester, to dispute, from Old French, to call to witness, from Latin contestārī : com-, com- + testis, witness; see trei- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Late Old French contester, from Latin contestor ("to call to witness") (Wiktionary)

Examples

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  • A woman received 2nd Prize for her delicious sponge cake in a baking contest. Turns out that she was the only entrant to the contest, but she wasn't disappointed; once before she was the only entrant in a different baking contest and received 3rd Prize for her fruit cobbler!

    --Heard on NPR

    July 6, 2007