General English

General Science


  • noun a legal agreement between two parties
  • noun an agreement for the supply of a service or goods
  • noun a deal to buy or sell shares, or an agreement to purchase options or futures
  • verb to agree to do some work on the basis of a legally binding contract


  • An agreement between two parties to perform work or provide goods, including an agreement or order for the procurement of supplies or services.


  • noun an agreement between two or more parties to create legal obligations between them. Some contracts are made ‘under seal’, i.e. they are signed and sealed by the parties; most contracts are made orally or in writing. The essential elements of a contract are: (a) that an offer made by one party should be accepted by the other; (b) consideration (i.e. payment of money); (c) the intention to create legal relations. The terms of a contract may be express or implied. A breach of contract by one party entitles the other party to sue for damages or to ask for something to be done.


  • A legal commitment to buy or sell a given commodity, stock, bond, or other asset as set forth in the terms of the agreement for date, price, etc. This legal instrument is often used by importers and exporters as a hedge against currency fluctuations. This tends to limit risk in commodity transactions as the outcome is known before the actual transfer of custody takes place. These contracts can be traded by speculators who then assume the risk in hopes of profit. In Forex, a contract may involve an agreement to buy or sell a foreign currency on a specified date at a predetermined rate of exchange.

Information & Library Science

  • noun a written legal agreement


  • noun an agreement to kill someone for a payment


  • verb to become smaller and tighter, or make a muscle or part of the body smaller and tighter
  • verb to catch a disease
  • verb to make a formal or legally binding agreement with someone to do something


  • noun a formal or legally binding agreement, e.g. one setting out terms of employment

Origin & History of “contract”

English acquired the word contract in stages, although in all cases the ultimate source was contractus, the past participle of Latin contrahere, a compound verb formed from the prefix com- ‘together’ and trahere ‘pull, draw’ (source of English traction and tractor). this meant literally ‘pull together’, but it had a variety of metaphorical senses, including ‘bring about’ and ‘enter into an agreement’, and it was the latter which first passed into English via Old French as a noun meaning ‘mutual agreement’. The arrival of the verb contract did not happen until the 16th century; it developed from an earlier adjective contract, which came again from Old French contract. This introduced a further sense of Latin contrahere; ‘become narrowed, get smaller’.