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

  • n. An agreement between two or more parties, especially one that is written and enforceable by law. See Synonyms at bargain.
  • n. The writing or document containing such an agreement.
  • n. The branch of law dealing with formal agreements between parties.
  • n. Marriage as a formal agreement; betrothal.
  • n. Games The last and highest bid of a suit in one hand in bridge.
  • n. Games The number of tricks thus bid.
  • n. Games Contract bridge.
  • n. A paid assignment to murder someone: put out a contract on the mobster's life.
  • transitive v. To enter into by contract; establish or settle by formal agreement: contract a marriage.
  • transitive v. To acquire or incur: contract obligations; contract a serious illness.
  • transitive v. To reduce in size by drawing together; shrink.
  • transitive v. To pull together; wrinkle.
  • transitive v. Grammar To shorten (a word or words) by omitting or combining some of the letters or sounds, as do not to don't.
  • intransitive v. To enter into or make an agreement: contract for garbage collection.
  • intransitive v. To become reduced in size by or as if by being drawn together: The pupils of the patient's eyes contracted.
  • contract out To engage a person outside an organization by contract to undertake or produce.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. 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.
  • n. 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.
  • n. A part of legal studies dealing with laws and jurisdiction related to contracts.
  • n. An order, usually given to a hired assassin, to kill someone.
  • n. The declarer's undertaking to win the number of tricks bid with a stated suit as trump
  • v. To draw together or nearer; to shorten, narrow, or lessen.
  • v. To enter into a contract with.
  • v. To gain or acquire (an illness).

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Contracted.
  • adj. Contracted; affianced; betrothed.
  • n. The agreement of two or more persons, upon a sufficient consideration or cause, to do, or to abstain from doing, some act; an agreement in which a party undertakes to do, or not to do, a particular thing; a formal bargain; a compact; an interchange of legal rights.
  • n. A formal writing which contains the agreement of parties, with the terms and conditions, and which serves as a proof of the obligation.
  • n. The act of formally betrothing a man and woman.
  • intransitive v. To be drawn together so as to be diminished in size or extent; to shrink; to be reduced in compass or in duration.
  • intransitive v. To make an agreement; to covenant; to agree; to bargain.
  • transitive v. To draw together or nearer; to reduce to a less compass; to shorten, narrow, or lessen.
  • transitive v. To draw together so as to wrinkle; to knit.
  • transitive v. To bring on; to incur; to acquire.
  • transitive v. To enter into, with mutual obligations; to make a bargain or covenant for.
  • transitive v. To betroth; to affiance.
  • transitive v. To shorten by omitting a letter or letters or by reducing two or more vowels or syllables to one.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To draw together or closer; draw into a smaller compass, either by compression or by the omission of parts; shorten; abridge; condense; narrow; lessen: as, to contract a space or an inclosure; to contract the period of life; to contract a word or an essay.
  • To draw the parts of together; wrinkle; pucker.
  • In grammar, to shorten by combination of concurrent vowels into one long vowel or a diphthong.
  • To betroth; affiance.
  • To make, settle, or establish by contract or agreement.
  • To acquire, as by habit, use, or contagion; gain by accretion or variation; bring on; incur: as, to contract vicious habits by indulgence; to contract debt by extravagance; to contract disease.
  • To be drawn together; be reduced in compass; become smaller, shorter, or narrower; shrink.
  • To make a bargain; enter into an agreement or engagement; covenant: as, to contract for a load of flour; to contract to carry the mail.
  • To bind one's self by promise of marriage.
  • Synonyms Diminish, Dwindle, etc. See decrease.
  • Condensed; brief.
  • Concrete.
  • Contracted; affianced; betrothed.
  • n. A drawing together; mutual attraction; attractive force.
  • n. An agreement between two or more parties for the doing or the not doing of some definite thing. Parsons, Contracts, I. 6. See def. 5.
  • n. Specifically Betrothal.
  • n. The writing which contains the agreement of parties, with the terms and conditions, and which serves as evidence of the obligation.
  • n. Specifically, in law, an interchange of legal rights by agreement.
  • n. A written contract specifying in detail what is to be done, as a building-contract with specifications.
  • n. A contracted word; a contraction.

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

  • v. compress or concentrate
  • n. (contract bridge) the highest bid becomes the contract setting the number of tricks that the bidder must make
  • v. make or become more narrow or restricted
  • v. squeeze or press together
  • v. become smaller or draw together
  • v. engage by written agreement
  • n. a binding agreement between two or more persons that is enforceable by law
  • v. enter into a contractual arrangement
  • v. reduce in scope while retaining essential elements
  • v. make smaller
  • v. be stricken by an illness, fall victim to an illness
  • n. a variety of bridge in which the bidder receives points toward game only for the number of tricks he bid


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

Middle English, from Latin contractus, past participle of contrahere, to draw together, make a contract : com-, com- + trahere, to draw.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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").

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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.


  • To see why, we first need to distinguish between actual, flesh-and-blood arrangements, in the law or in society more generally, that we call ˜contracts™, and the theoretical apparatus that contract theorists use to ground moral principles, which is also called (more metaphorically) a ˜contract™.

    Transport: a Flash-Fiction Triptych

  • Your Committee can not regard marriage as a _mere contract_, but as something above and beyond; something more binding than records, more solemn than specialties; and the person who reasons as to the relations of husband and wife as upon an ordinary contract, in their opinion commits a fatal error at the outset; and your Committee can not recommend any action based on such a theory.

    History of Woman Suffrage, Volume I

  • [Sidenote: All ages have the same interest in preservation of the contract, and the same Constitution.] "The nature of such an _original contract_ of government proves that there is not only a power in the people, who have _inherited its freedom_, to assert their own title to it, but they are bound in duty to transmit the _same_ Constitution to their posterity also."

    The Works of the Right Honourable Edmund Burke, Vol. 04 (of 12)

  • “All he had to do was manage to get himself a term contract of some sort.”

    The Prize

  • Finally, we have also initiated construction of a 16-inch diameter loop of our existing oil pipeline into Texas City, supported by a term contract with one of our refining customers, which will allow us to significantly expand our total service capabilities into the Texas City area by in the second quarter of 2013.

  • If we can find a term contract with adequate return, we would do it.

  • In our other regions of the world, we have concentrated on building our term contract position and have taken advantage of strengthening markets.

  • BPCL, which started buying about 20,000 barrels a day of Iranian crude through a term contract in September, is considering whether to stop taking supplies, they said. -- Top News

  • Tortious interference is when a person or entity who is not a party to a contract or business relationship, but we'll stick with the term contract to cover both intentionally convinces one of the parties to the contract to break that contract. News

  • Actually, bad faith breach of an insurance contract is the one thing in contract law that can expose you to punitive damages.

    Matthew Yglesias » How the White House Health Plan Compares


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  • "While official figures showed the economy contracting at its fastest since 1980, National Grid said demand for electricity had fallen over Christmas at homes and factories across the land, and Poland confirmed that thousands of its citizens were coming home from Britain and Ireland."

    - Ashley Seager and Mark Milner, 'Lights go out across Britain as recession hits home' in The Guardian, 24 January 2009.

    January 25, 2009