1. Belonging to the same period of time: a fact documented by two contemporary sources.
2. Of about the same age.
3. Current; modern: contemporary trends in design.
n. pl. con·tem·po·rar·ies
1. One of the same time or age: Shelley and Keats were contemporaries.
2. A person of the present age.
[Medieval Latin contemporārius : Latin com-, com- + Latin tempus, tempor-, time + Latin -ārius, -ary.]
con·tem′po·rari·ly (-tĕm′pə-rârə-lē) adv.
Synonyms: contemporary, contemporaneous, simultaneous, synchronous, concurrent, coincident, concomitant
These adjectives mean existing or occurring at the same time. Contemporary and contemporaneous often refer to historical or indefinite time periods, with contemporary used more often of persons and contemporaneous of events and facts: The composer Salieri was contemporary with Mozart. A rise in interest rates is often contemporaneous with an increase in inflation.
Simultaneous suggests a briefer or more definite moment in time and often implies deliberate coordination: The activists organized simultaneous demonstrations in many major cities.
Synchronous refers to related events that occur together, usually as part of a process or design: "A single, synchronous flowering and seed-bearing ... is common in bamboos in both the Old World and the New" (David G. Campbell).
Concurrent refers to events or conditions, often of a parallel nature, that coexist in time: The administration had to deal with concurrent crises on three different continents.
Coincident applies to events occurring at the same time without implying a relationship: "The resistance to the Pope's authority ... is pretty nearly coincident with the rise of the Ottomans" (John Henry Newman).
Concomitant is used of concurrent events, one of which is viewed as attendant on the other: "The sweetness of naturally low-calorie fruits, vegetables, and grains may be enhanced without a concomitant increase in caloric content" (Leona Fitzmaurice).
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 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.