1590s, "reflect upon, ponder, study, view mentally, meditate," from Latin contemplatus, past participle of contemplari "to gaze attentively, observe; consider, contemplate," originally "to mark out a space for observation" (as an augur does), from assimilated form of com-, here probably an intensive prefix (see com-), + templum "area for the taking of auguries" (see temple (n.1)).
From c. 1600 as "to view or observe with continued attention." From 1816 as "to intend, have in view as a future act." Related: Contemplated; contemplating.
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