Etymology
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contract (v.)

late 14c., "to draw into a smaller compass, become smaller, shrink" (intransitive); early 15c. "make an agreement, enter into a contract, agree or establish to undertake mutually," from Old French contracter and directly from Latin contractus, past participle of contrahere "to draw several objects together; draw in, shorten, lessen, abridge," metaphorically "make a bargain, make an agreement," from assimilated form of com "with, together" (see con-) + trahere "to draw" (see tract (n.1)). Related: Contracted; contracting.

Meaning "to acquire as by habit or contagion, become infected with" is from 1590s. Transitive sense of "make narrow, draw together the parts (of something) to cause it to shrink" is from c. 1600. Grammatical sense of "to shorten (a word or syllable) by combining or eliding concurrent elements" is from c. 1600. Transitive sense of "arrange for by contract" is from 1897.

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contract (n.)

early 14c., "agreement between two or more persons to do or not do some particular thing," originally especially of marriage, from Old French contract (Modern French contrat), from Latin contractus "a drawing together, a shrinking; a contract, an agreement," from past participle of contrahere "to draw several objects together; draw in, shorten, lessen, abridge," metaphorically "make a bargain, make an agreement," from assimilated form of com "with, together" (see con-) + trahere "to draw" (see tract (n.1)).

In reference to the writing which contains the agreement and its terms and conditions, 1610s. U.S. underworld sense of "arrangement to kill someone" first recorded 1940.

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contractual (adj.)

"arising from a contract or agreement," 1827, from Latin contractus "a drawing together," in Late Latin "a contract" (see contract (n.)) + -al (1).

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contracted (adj.)

1580s, "agreed upon," also (c. 1600) "shrunken, shortened," past-participle adjective from contract (v.). Figuratively, "limited in extent, narrow, restricted," 1710. Related: Contractedness. Earlier as an adjective was simply contract (late 14c.), from Latin contractus.

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contracture (n.)

"contraction," especially of the muscles, 1650s, from French contracture, from Latin contractura "a drawing together," from contract-, past-participle stem of contrahere "to draw several objects together; draw in, shorten, lessen, abridge," metaphorically "make a bargain, make an agreement" (see contract (n.)). Related: Contractural.

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subcontract (n.)
also sub-contract, "contract for carrying out all or part of a previous contract," 1817, from sub- + contract (n.). As a verb from 1828 (in Shakespeare it means "be betrothed again"). Related: Subcontracted; subcontracting.
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contractor (n.)

1540s, "one who enters into a contract," from Late Latin contractor "one who makes a contract," agent noun from past-participle stem of Latin contrahere "to draw several objects together; draw in, shorten, lessen, abridge," metaphorically "make a bargain, make an agreement," from assimilated form of com "with, together" (see con-) + trahere "to draw" (see tract (n.1)).

From 1680s as "a muscle which contracts a part." Specifically "one who enters into a contract to provide work, services, or goods at a certain price or rate" is from 1724.

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contractile (adj.)

"susceptible of contraction," 1706, from French contractile, from Latin contract-, past participle stem of contrahere "to draw several objects together; draw in, shorten," from assimilated form of com "with, together" (see con-) + trahere "to draw" (see tract (n.1)). Related: Contractility.

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compact (n.1)

"an agreement or contract between two or more parties," 1590s, from Latin compactum "agreement," noun use of neuter past participle of compacisci "come to agreement," from com "with, together" (see com-) + pacisci "to covenant, contract" (from PIE root *pag- "to fasten").

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contraction (n.)
Origin and meaning of contraction

early 15c., contraccioun, "action of making a contract" (especially of marriage), a sense now obsolete; also "action of reducing, abridging, or shortening," from Old French contraction (13c.) or directly from Latin contractionem (nominative contractio) "a drawing together, an abridging, shortening, a shortening in pronunciation," noun of action from past-participle stem of contrahere "to draw several objects together; draw in, shorten, lessen, abridge," metaphorically "make a bargain, make an agreement," from assimilated form of com "with, together" (see con-) + trahere "to draw" (see tract (n.1)). Related: Contractional.

Meaning "action of becoming shorter or smaller through the drawing together of the parts" is from 1580s. Meaning "action of acquiring (a disease) is from 1680s. Grammatical sense of "a shortening of a word or syllable in pronunciation or writing" is from 1706; meaning "a contracted word or words" is from 1755. Contractions of the uterus in labor of childbirth attested from 1962.

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