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CONTRACT, verb transitive [Latin , to draw. See Draw.]

1. To draw together or nearer; to draw into a less compass, either in length or breadth; to shorten; to abridge; to narrow; to lessen; as, to contract an inclosure; to contract the faculties; to contract the period of life; to contract the sphere of action.

2. To draw the parts together; to wrinkle; as, to contract the brow.

3. To betroth; to affiance. A contracted his daughter to B. The lady was contracted to a man of merit.

4. To draw to; to bring on; to incur; to gain. We contract vicious habits by indulgence. We contract debt by extravagance.

5. To shorten by omission of a letter or syllable; as, to contract a word.

6. To epitomize; to abridge; as, to contract an essay.

CONTRACT, verb intransitive

1. To shrink; to become shorter or narrower.

Many bodies contract by the application of cold.

A hempen cord contracts by moisture.

2. To bargain; to make a mutual agreement, as between two or more persons. We have contracted for a load of flour; or we have contracted with a farmer for a quantity of provisions.

CONTRACT, for contracted, participle passive Affianced; betrothed.


1. An agreement or covenant between two or more persons, in which each party binds himself to do or forbear some act, and each acquires a right to what the other promises; a mutual promise upon lawful consideration or promise upon lawful consideration or cause, which binds the parties to a performance; a bargain; a compact. Contracts are executory or executed.

2. The act by which a man and woman are betrothed, each to the other.

3. The writing which contains the agreement of parties with the terms and conditions, and which serves as a proof of the obligation.