verb (used without object)
to struggle in opposition: to contend with the enemy for control of the port.
to strive in rivalry; compete; vie: to contend for first prize.
to strive in debate; dispute earnestly: to contend against falsehood.
verb (used with object)
to assert or maintain earnestly: He contended that taxes were too high.

1400–50; late Middle English contenden < Anglo-French contendre < Latin contendere to compete, strive, draw tight, equivalent to con- con- + tendere to stretch; see tend1

contender, noun
contendingly, adverb
noncontending, adjective
precontend, verb (used without object)
recontend, verb (used without object)
uncontended, adjective
uncontending, adjective

contend, contest.

1. wrestle, grapple, battle, fight. 2. See compete. 3. argue, wrangle. 4. hold, claim.

3. agree. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
contend (kənˈtɛnd)
vb (often foll by with)
1.  to struggle in rivalry, battle, etc; vie
2.  to argue earnestly; debate
3.  (tr; may take a clause as object) to assert or maintain
[C15: from Latin contendere to strive, from com- with + tendere to stretch, aim]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

mid-15c., from L. contendere "to stretch out, strive after," from com- intensive prefix + tendere "to stretch" (see tenet). Related: Contended (pp. adj., c.1700); contender (1540s); contending (1590s).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
Previous failures, however, do not daunt the latest contender for the prize.
Tears could be one of the contender for its contents.
But the leading contender for such a unified theory, string theory, simply
  compounds our incomprehension.
Unsurprisingly, the hip downtown crowd always favors the darker, more poetic
  contender over the commercial pop-meister.
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