The act of contracting or the state of being contracted. A word, as won't from will not, or phrase, as o'clock from of the clock, formed by omitting or combining some of the sounds of a longer phrase. The formation of such a word. Physiology The shortening and thickening of functioning muscle or muscle fiber. Any of a series of sudden and involuntary tightenings of the uterine muscles occurring before or during childbirth. A period of decreased business activity.