Meaning of “contract” in the English Dictionary

"contract" in English

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contractnoun [ C ]

uk /ˈkɒn.trækt/ us /ˈkɑːn.trækt/

B1 a legal document that states and explains a formal agreement between two different people or groups, or the agreement itself:

a contract of employment
a temporary/building contract
They could take legal action against you if you break (the terms of) the contract.
My solicitor is drawing up (= writing) a contract.
Don't sign/enter into any contract before examining its conditions carefully.
[ + to infinitive ] They're the firm of architects who won the contract to design the Museum of Fine Art extension.
be under contract

to have formally agreed to work for a company or person on a stated job for a stated period of time

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uk /kənˈtrækt/ us /kənˈtrækt/

(Definition of “contract” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"contract" in American English

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contractnoun [ C ]

us /ˈkɑn·trækt/

contract noun [ C ] (AGREEMENT)

a legal document that states and explains a formal agreement between two different people or groups, or the agreement itself:

She already has a contract for her next book with a publisher.
adjective [ not gradable ] us /kənˈtræk·tʃu·əl/

I have no other contractual obligations.


us /kənˈtrækt/

contract verb (SHORTEN)

[ I/T ] to make or become shorter or narrower, or smaller:

[ I ] When wet fibers dry, they contract.

contract verb (BECOME ILL)

[ T ] to catch or become ill with a disease:

She contracted pneumonia and was hospitalized.

contractverb [ T ]

us /kənˈtrækt/

contract verb [ T ] (AGREE)

to arrange through a formal agreement to have a person or company produce something or supply workers or material, esp. for building :

The company had been contracted to build shelters for the homeless.

To contract out a job is to formally arrange for other people to do it:

[ M ] The university contracts out the cleaning to a private company.

(Definition of “contract” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

"contract" in Business English

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contractnoun [ C ]

uk /ˈkɒntrækt/ us

LAW a formal agreement between two people or companies, or a legal document that explains the details of this agreement:

contract for sth The contract for the new drilling platform went to a Dutch company.
contract to do sth He recently landed a contract to write a book about his expedition.
contract with sb State agencies spent about $319 million on contracts with private vendors last year.
contract between sb and sb It is a standard contract between a home seller and their agent.
An independent contractor is legally responsible for job completion and, on quitting, becomes liable for breach of contract.
draw up/write up a contract
enter into/sign a contract
be awarded/win/land a contract
a long-term/short-term contract

FINANCE, STOCK MARKET a formal agreement relating to buying or selling a stock, currency, commodity, etc. for a particular price at a particular time:

An option differs from a futures contract, in which both parties make a binding agreement to buy or sell currency at some point in the future.
be under contract

LAW to have made a formal agreement with another person or company, and be legally responsible for doing what you have agreed to do:

We're under contract to complete the job by the end of the year.

PROPERTY if a building or property is under contract, the owner has officially agreed to sell it to a particular person for a particular price:

Two of the site's 8000 sq ft commercial lofts are currently under contract.


uk /kənˈtrækt/ us

[ I ] ECONOMICS if a market or economy contracts, less money is being earned, spent, or invested in it:

contract by 3%/5%, etc. The country’s economy contracted by 2% in the first quarter.

[ I or T ] LAW to make a legal agreement with another person or company, for example, to do work for them or to use their services:

be contracted to do sth A local architecture firm was contracted to design and plan the new symphony hall.

contractadjective [ before noun ]

uk /ˈkɒntrækt/ us UK

WORKPLACE contract workers are paid by companies or other organizations to work on a particular job, but are not employees of those companies, organizations, etc.:

Many contract workers provide services once handled in-house by the military.
New and growing businesses often initially hire contract labor to prevent overstaffing and runaway overheads.
contract computing staff

(Definition of “contract” from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)