c. 1200, contemplacioun, "religious musing," from Old French contemplation and directly from Latin contemplationem (nominative contemplatio) "act of looking at," noun of action from past-participle stem 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 late 14c. as "reflection, thinking, thought, act of holding an idea continuously before the mind." Meaning "act of looking attentively at anything" is from late 15c.
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