contact (n.) Look up contact at
1620s, "action of touching," from Latin contactus "a touching," from past participle of contingere "to touch, seize," from com- "together" (see com-) + tangere "to touch" (see tangent (adj.)).

Figurative sense of "connection, communication" is from 1818. As a signal to the person about to spin an aircraft propeller that the ignition is switched on, the word was in use by 1913. Contact lens is first recorded 1888; short form contact is from 1961.
contact (v.) Look up contact at
1834, "put in contact," from contact (n.). Meaning "get in touch with" is 1927, American English. Related: Contacted; contacting.
contagion (n.) Look up contagion at
late 14c., from Old French contagion, from Latin contagionem (nominative contagio) "a touching, contact, contagion," related to contingere "touch closely" (see contact (n.)).
contagious (adj.) Look up contagious at
late 14c., from Old French contagieus (Modern French contagieux), from Late Latin contagiosus, from Latin contagio (see contact (n.)).
contain (v.) Look up contain at
late 13c., from Old French contein-, stem of contenir, from Latin continere (transitive) "to hold together, enclose," from com- "together" (see com-) + tenere "to hold" (see tenet). Related: Containable.
container (n.) Look up container at
mid-15c., agent noun from contain.
containment (n.) Look up containment at
1650s, "action or fact of containing," from contain + -ment. As an international policy of the West vs. the Soviet Union, recorded from 1947.
contaminate (v.) Look up contaminate at
early 15c., from Old French contaminer, from Latin contaminatus, past participle of contaminare "to defile," from contamen "contact, pollution," from com- "together" (see com-) + *tag-, base of tangere "to touch" (see tangent (adj.)). Related: Contaminant (1934); contaminable.
contamination (n.) Look up contamination at
early 15c., from Latin contaminationem (nominative contaminatio), noun of action from past participle stem of contaminare (see contaminate). Figurative sense is from c. 1620; specifically of radioactivity from 1913.
contango Look up contango at
1853, a stockbroker's invention, perhaps somehow derived from continue, or from Spanish contengo "I contain, refrain, restrain, check." As a verb, from 1900.
contemn (v.) Look up contemn at
mid-15c., from Old French contemner (15c.), from Latin contemnere "to despise, scorn" (see contempt).
contemplate (v.) Look up contemplate at
1590s, from Latin contemplatus, past participle of contemplari "survey, observe" (see contemplation). Related: Contemplated; contemplating.
contemplation (n.) Look up contemplation at
c. 1200, "religious musing," from Old French contemplation or directly from Latin contemplationem (nominative contemplatio) "act of looking at," from contemplat-, past participle stem of contemplari "to gaze attentively, observe," originally "to mark out a space for observation" (as an augur does). From com-, intensive prefix (see com-), + templum "area for the taking of auguries" (see temple (n.1)).
contemplative (adj.) Look up contemplative at
mid-14c., from Old French contemplatif (12c.), from Latin contemplativus, from contemplat-, past participle stem of contemplari (see contemplation).
contemporaneous (adj.) Look up contemporaneous at
1650s, from Late Latin contemporaneus "contemporary," from the same source as contemporary but with a form after Late Latin temporaneous "timely." Related: Contemporaneously; contemporaneity.
contemporary (adj.) Look up contemporary at
1630s, from Medieval Latin contemporarius, from Latin com- "with" (see com-) + temporarius "of time," from tempus "time, season, portion of time" (see temporal (adj.)). Meaning "modern, characteristic of the present" is from 1866.
contemporary (n.) Look up contemporary at
"one who lives at the same time as another," 1630s, originally cotemporary, from co- + temporary; modified by influence of contemporary (adj.). Replacing native time-fellow (1570s).
contempt (n.) Look up contempt at
late 14c., from Latin contemptus "scorn," from past participle of contemnere "to scorn, despise," from com-, intensive prefix (see com-), + *temnere "to slight, scorn," which is of uncertain origin. Phrase contempt of court is attested from 19c., though the idea is several centuries older.
contemptible (adj.) Look up contemptible at
late 14c., from Latin contemptibilis "worthy of scorn," from contempt-, past participle stem of contemnere (see contempt). Related: Contemptibility; contemptibly.
contemptuous (adj.) Look up contemptuous at
1590s, from Latin contemptus (see contempt). Related: Contemptuously.
contend (v.) Look up contend at
mid-15c., from Old French contendre, from Latin contendere "to stretch out, strive after," from com-, intensive prefix (see com-), + tendere "to stretch" (see tenet). Related: Contended; contending.
contender (n.) Look up contender at
1540s, agent noun from contend.
content (v.) Look up content at
early 15c., from Middle French contenter, from content (adj.) "satisfied," from Latin contentus "contained, satisfied," past participle of continere (see contain). Sense evolved through "contained," "restrained," to "satisfied," as the contented person's desires are bound by what he or she already has. Related: Contented; contentedly.
content (adj.) Look up content at
c. 1400, from Old French content, "satisfied," from Latin contentus "contained, satisfied," past participle of continere (see contain). Related: Contently (largely superseded by contentedly).
content (n.) Look up content at
"that which is contained," early 15c., from Latin contentum, contenta, noun use of past participle of continere (see contain). Meaning "satisfaction" is from 1570s; heart's content is from 1590s (Shakespeare).
contention (n.) Look up contention at
late 14c., "strife," from Old French contention, from Latin contentionem (nominative contentio), from content-, past participle stem of contendere (see contend).
contentious (adj.) Look up contentious at
c. 1500, from Middle French contentieux, from Latin contentiosus "obstinate, quarrelsome," from contentionem (see contend). Related: Contentiously; contentiousness.
contentment (n.) Look up contentment at
mid-15c., from Old French contentment, from contenter (see content (v.)).
contents (n.) Look up contents at
"things contained" in something (the stomach, a document, etc.), early 15c., Latin contentum (plural contenta), neuter past participle of continere (see contain). Table of contents is late 15c.
conterminous (adj.) Look up conterminous at
1670s, from Latin conterminus "bordering upon, having a common boundary," from com- "together, with" (see com-) + terminus "end, boundary line" (see terminus).
contessa (n.) Look up contessa at
1819, from Italian contessa, from Medieval Latin cometissa (see countess).
contest (v.) Look up contest at
c. 1600, from French contester "dispute, oppose," from Middle French, from Latin contestari (litem) "to call to witness, bring action," from com- "together" (see com-) + testari "to bear witness," from testis "a witness," (see testament). Calling witnesses as the first step in a legal combat. Related: Contestable; contested; contesting.
contest (n.) Look up contest at
1640s, from contest (v.).
contestant (adj.) Look up contestant at
1660s, from French contestant, present participle of contester (see contest (v.)).
contestant (n.) Look up contestant at
"one who contests," from contestant (adj.). Popularized in U.S. Civil War, when it was a journalist's term for the combatants on either side.
contestation (n.) Look up contestation at
1540s, from Latin contestationem (nominative contestatio), "an attesting, testimony," noun of action from past participle stem of contestari (see contest (v.)).
contested (adj.) Look up contested at
1670s, past participle adjective from contest (v.). Of elections, from 1771, American English.
contex (v.) Look up contex at
obsolete 16c.-17c. verb from Latin contexere "to weave together" (see context).
context (n.) Look up context at
early 15c., from Latin contextus "a joining together," originally past participle of contexere "to weave together," from com- "together" (see com-) + texere "to weave, to make" (see texture (n.)).
contextual (adj.) Look up contextual at
c. 1820, from context on model of textual, etc. In philosophy, contextual definition is recorded from 1934, along with contextualization, contextualize. Related: Contextualized.
contextualise (v.) Look up contextualise at
chiefly British English spelling of contextualize (see contextual); for suffix, see -ize. Related: Contextualised; contextualising.
contiguity (n.) Look up contiguity at
1640s, from French contiguité from Latin contiguitas, from contiguus (see contiguous).
contiguous (adj.) Look up contiguous at
1610s, from Latin contiguus "near, touching, bordering upon," from root of contingere "to touch upon" (see contact). Earlier form, now obsolete, was contiguate (mid-15c.).
continence (n.) Look up continence at
late 14c., "self-restraint," from Old French continence (14c.), from Latin continentia "a holding back, repression," from continent-, present participle stem of continere (see continent). Especially of sexual desire from late 14c.; of the body's eliminatory functions, from 1915. Related: Continency.
continent (adj.) Look up continent at
late 14c., "self-restraining," from Old French continent and directly from Latin continentem (nominative continens) "holding together, continuous," present participle of continere "hold together" (see contain). Meaning moved from "exercising self-restraint" to "chaste" 14c., and to bowel and bladder control 19c.
continent (n.) Look up continent at
"large land mass," 1550s, from continent land (mid-15c.), translating Latin terra continens "continuous land," from continens, present participle of continere (see continent (adj.)).
continental (adj.) Look up continental at
1818 as a purely geographical term, from continent + -al (1). In reference to the European mainland (as opposed to Great Britain), recorded from 1760. Continental breakfast (the kind eaten on the continent as opposed to the kind eaten in Britain) is attested by 1855. In reference to the British American colonies from 1774; the Continental Congress is attested from 1775; continental divide in use by 1865; continental rise in geology from 1959; continental slope from 1907. Continental shelf first attested 1888.
continental drift Look up continental drift at
1925, a translation of German Kontinentalverschiebung, proposed 1912 by German scientist Alfred Wegener (1880-1930); the theory was not widely accepted until after c. 1950.
continentality (n.) Look up continentality at
1897, a term in meteorology, from German kontinentalität (1895), from Latin continentem (see continent (adj.)).
contingence (n.) Look up contingence at
early 16c., from Medieval Latin *contingentia, from contingent- present participle stem of contingere "to touch" (see contact (n.)).