an act or instance of contracting.
the quality or state of being contracted.
a shortened form of a word or group of words, with the omitted letters often replaced in written English by an apostrophe, as e'er for ever, isn't for is not, dep't for department.
Physiology. the change in a muscle by which it becomes thickened and shortened.
a restriction or withdrawal, as of currency or of funds available as call money.
a decrease in economic and industrial activity (opposed to expansion ).

1375–1425; late Middle English (< Middle French) < Latin contractiōn- (stem of contractiō), equivalent to contract(us) drawn together, past participle of contrahere (see contract) + -iōn- -ion

contractional, adjective
noncontraction, noun
overcontraction, noun
recontraction, noun

Contractions such as isn't, couldn't, can't, weren't, he'll, they're occur chiefly, although not exclusively, in informal speech and writing. They are common in personal letters, business letters, journalism, and fiction; they are rare in scientific and scholarly writing. Contractions occur in formal writing mainly as representations of speech. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
contraction (kənˈtrækʃən)
1.  an instance of contracting or the state of being contracted
2.  physiol any normal shortening or tensing of an organ or part, esp of a muscle, e.g. during childbirth
3.  pathol any abnormal tightening or shrinking of an organ or part
4.  a shortening of a word or group of words, often marked in written English by an apostrophe: I've come for I have come

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

c.1600, "action of making a contract" (especially of marriage), also "action of shrinking or shortening," from Fr. contraction (13c.), from L. contractionem, noun of action from contrahere (see contract). Meaning "action of acquiring (a disease) is from 1610. Grammatical
sense is from 1706; meaning "a contracted word or words" is from 1755. Contractions of the uterus in labor of childbirth attested from 1962.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

contraction con·trac·tion (kən-trāk'shən)

  1. The act of contracting or the state of being contracted.

  2. The shortening and thickening of functioning muscle or muscle fiber.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
contraction   (kən-trāk'shən)  Pronunciation Key 
The shortening and thickening of a muscle for the purpose of exerting force on or causing movement of a body part. See more at muscle.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary

contraction definition

A word produced by running two or more words together and leaving out some of the letters or sounds. For example, isn't is a contraction of is not.

Note: An apostrophe is generally used in contractions to show where letters or sounds have been left out.
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Computing Dictionary

contraction definition


The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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Example sentences
It was the body, the uterus, and the contraction--as if these things weren't a
  part of us.
It travels inside the frame of the muon and so the length contraction of the
  rod in the sea level does not make any difference.
They're more likely to see a contraction that could come in the form of
  austerity, layoffs, or reining in of capital investments.
It prevents the regurgitation of blood into the sinus during the contraction of
  the atrium.
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