Is there any difference in connotation between 'ponder' and 'contemplate'?

Put another way, do these two sentences give you exactly the same impression?

  1. Every day I ponder how I should live my life.

  2. Every day I contemplate how I should live my life.


1 Answer 1


The question is Is there any difference in connotation between 'ponder' and 'contemplate'?

Although the meaning is the same, the answer to "Is there any difference in connotation", the answer is it depends what nationality you are. In the UK the answer would be Yes (disregarding the persistent degradation of UK English by/of globalisation). In UK English Ponder is Formal whilst in US English it is not. Therefore I would suggest that normally you would not use Ponder in your sentence if using British English.Cambridge English Dictionary


The first issue is to ponder whether it would be regarded as 'evidence' at all?

formal adjective (SERIOUS)Formal language, clothes, and behaviour are suitable for serious or official occasions:Cambridge English Dictionary

  • Interesting +1. Actually this question has been a same question I wanted to ask for a long time ( jut forgot ).
    – user17814
    Aug 3, 2019 at 6:14
  • I disagree that "ponder" is not formal in US English. I'm also not sure that this is a difference in connotation.
    – Em.
    Aug 4, 2019 at 7:31
  • @Em You may well be correct. I do not propose myself as an expert in US English. However that is what my dictionary seems to think. if you are correct then there is a difference in connotation in both UK & US English, as neither would ponder its use it informally.
    – Brad
    Aug 4, 2019 at 8:19
  • The other day I was talking to a friend and he suggested ‘ponder’ sounds more like wondering over something that doesn’t have a clear answer to, something difficult to find a solution to, whereas ‘contemplate’ is constructing an actual process step by step carefully to find an answer or a solution over something solvable/feasible ... what do you think?
    – Irene
    Aug 26, 2019 at 17:55
  • @Irene basically I agree however the conclusion makes a lot of difference. I would presume Steven Hawkins often sat pondering upon some issue. That would become a subject of some paper after further contemplation. Here as, often, I am just the messenger for the Dictionaries not the master of the pen.
    – Brad
    Aug 26, 2019 at 23:40

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .