1. The act of contracting or the state of being contracted.
a. A word, as won't from will not, or phrase, as o'clock from of the clock, formed by omitting or combining some of the sounds of a longer phrase.
b. The formation of such a word.
a. Physiology The shortening and thickening of functioning muscle or muscle fiber.
b. Any of a series of sudden and involuntary tightenings of the uterine muscles occurring before or during childbirth.
4. A period of decreased business activity.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 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.