The act or an instance of striving in controversy or debate:"Amid all the hand-wringing and contention about whether what the bees do is really 'language,' no one seems to question whether it's really 'dance'"(Marlene Zuk). See Synonyms at conflict. A striving to win in competition; rivalry: The teams met in fierce contention for first place. A condition in which winning a competition is possible: Six teams are in contention to win the gold medal. An assertion put forward in argument: It is my contention that they are lying.