A term of reference describing a unit of trading for a financial or commodity future. Also, the actual bilateral agreement between the buyer and seller of a transaction as defined by an exchange. The New York Times Financial Glossary

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I. contract con‧tract 1 [ˈkɒntrækt ǁ ˈkɑːn-] noun
1. [countable] LAW a formal written agreement between two or more people or groups which says what each must do for the other, or must not do:

• Informix signed a contract to provide software for Wal-Mart Stores' distribution and systems.

• Lawyers are still drawing up the recording contract.

• Gazprom has entered into a contract with NIOC to develop the South Pars gas field.

• He wasn't fired and he is still under contract to OGE.

• All cargo-handling services are now put out to contract (= companies compete to win the work ) .

— see also breach of contract, essence of a contract
2. [countable] FINANCE an agreement to deliver a type of basic goods or material at a particular price and time in the future:

• The wheat contract for March delivery rose 8.5 cents a bushel.

ˈaleatory ˌcontract [countable] INSURANCE
an insurance agreement that provides cover against loss or damage caused by a chance event
ˌannual ˈhours ˌcontract [countable] HUMAN RESOURCES
a contract in which the employee agrees to work a particular number of hours in a year, in return for an annual salary:

• Part-time staff can apply for annual hours contracts of up to 500 hours per annum if they so wish.

biˈlateral ˌcontract [countable] LAW
a contract between two people or groups:

• They made peace by a series of bilateral contracts with other cities.

ˈbinding ˌcontract [countable] LAW
a contract that courts of law will recognize as legal:

• The successful bidder is under a binding contract to purchase the relevant property.

ˈevergreen ˌcontract [countable]
HUMAN RESOURCES a job contract for a top company manager that in principle must be agreed regularly, for example every three years, but is always continued automatically
ˈexecuted ˌcontract [countable] LAW
a contract where the people or groups involved have done the things that they agreed to do
exˈpress ˌcontract [countable] LAW
a contract which states clearly what has been agreed:

• Apart from express contract, a tenant owes no duty to the landlord to keep the premises in repair.

ˌfixed-ˈperiod ˌcontract also ˌfixed-ˈterm ˌcontract [countable] HUMAN RESOURCES
a contract offering someone work for a fixed period of time:

• A lot of the staff are now on fixed-term contracts.

ˌformal ˈcontract [countable] LAW
a contract that is properly written down, rather than just a spoken agreement:

• A Boeing official said the company hopes to sign a formal contract soon for the sale of the jets.

ˌforward ˈcontract [countable] FINANCE
a private arrangement between two organizations for buying a particular amount of something for a fixed price on a fixed date in the future. This type of contract is not traded on any financial market:

• A forward contract between the exporter and his bank will fix the rate at which payment in foreign currency will be converted when it is received in the UK.

frusˌtration of ˈcontract
[uncountable] LAW when a contract is ended because of an unexpected event such as war or sickness which makes it impossible to do what was stated in the contract
ˈfutures ˌcontract [countable] FINANCE
a contract for a fixed amount of a commodity or security to be delivered at a fixed price on a fixed date in the future. Unlike forward contracts, futures are traded on financial markets:

• The fund sells Treasury-bond futures contracts that obligate it to sell its Treasury bonds for today's prices in three or six months.

ˌhire ˈpurchase ˌcontract [countable] COMMERCE
an agreement to buy something by making payments over a period of time. With a hire purchase contract, you do not own the thing you are buying until you have made the final payment
imˌplied ˈcontract [countable] LAW
a contract that is not specifically stated or written down:

• The broker was said to have acted honestly and in good faith, and there was no implied contract that he would have any degree of skill.

ˈlabor ˌcontract [countable] HUMAN RESOURCES
an agreement between a company and a labor union on pay, conditions etc:

• Italian journalists, in talks to renew their national labor contract, began a three-day strike.

ˌnaked ˈcontract also ˌnude ˈcontract [countable, uncountable] FINANCE
a futures contract or options contract where the seller does not own the related shares etc; = NUDUM PACTUM
ˌonerous ˈcontract [countable] LAW
a contract that is unfair for one of the people or groups involved:

• an onerous contract that called for Tucson Electric to buy much of the plant's power through 2014

ˈoptions ˌcontract [countable]
FINANCE a contract that gives the right to buy or sell particular shares, currencies etc at a particular price on a particular date in the future or within a particular period of time:

• Each crude-oil options contract entitles its holder to buy (a call option) or sell (a put option) the equivalent of 1,000 barrels of oil at a predetermined price.

ˌoral ˈcontract [countable]
a contract that is not written down:

• Oral contracts are possibilities in situations where well-established trade customs can be proved.

perˈformance ˌcontract [countable]
LAW a contract which becomes legally acceptable because of something someone has done for someone else, such as a particular task:

• Mexico has opened up its oil sector to performance contracts in which the drilling company would receive a premium if oil was found.

ˌrolling ˈcontract [countable] HUMAN RESOURCES
a contract that continues until an agreed period (= amount of time before you are told that you no longer have a job), rather than until a particular date:

• When discussing terms with your employer, you may be asked to consider whether you prefer a fixed-term agreement or a rolling contract.

ˈservice ˌcontract [countable] COMMERCE
1. an agreement between a company and a customer in which the company agrees to repair equipment the customer has bought or rented from it:

• The Revenue Service confirmed its award of a $1.4 billion service contract to AT&T.

2. an agreement between a company and one of its director S, stating what the director will do, how much they will be paid etc; = SERVICE AGREEMENT:

• A director is likely to be restricted by his service contract from competing with his employer.

3. an agreement between a company and a customer, stating what product or service the company will provide, and any arrangements for delivery, payment etc; = SERVICE AGREEMENT:

• Shop Television had a service contract to provide programming for the satellite television channel.

ˌstandard-ˈform ˌcontract [countable]
a contract that a business, employer etc uses in the same form in many different cases:

• A standard-form contract is used for the sale of residential property.

ˈturnkey ˌcontract [countable] PROPERTY
a contract for a building project in which the company doing the work must finish the work and leave the building, factory etc ready to operate:

• GEC-Alsthom won a turnkey contract valued at FFr3.6 billion for a power station in Morocco.

unenˈforceable ˌcontract [countable] LAW
a contract that cannot be recognized because of a legal detail that is not correct
uniˈlateral ˌcontract [countable] LAW
a contract in which only one of the parties has to do something, which is therefore not legally a proper contract:

• The seller has undertaken no obligation and there is only a unilateral contract under which the buyer is committed to pay if the seller delivers.

ˈvoidable ˌcontract [countable] LAW
a contract that can be ended because one of the people or groups involved has done something unfair
ˈvoid ˌcontract [countable] LAW
a contract that is not recognized by a law court because it is illegal
  [m0] II. contract contract 2 adjective [only before a noun]
contract builders, electricians etc do work for companies rather than for the general public
  [m0] III. contract con‧tract 3 [kənˈtrækt] verb [intransitive]
1. ECONOMICS if an economy, industry, or business activity contracts, it gets smaller or less successful:

• European scheduled air traffic grew 1.1%, but domestic traffic contracted by 1.6%.

— contraction noun [uncountable] :

• The US remained the largest buyer of Japanese vehicles in May, despite a 17% contraction in shipments.

2. COMMERCE LAW contract to do something to formally agree to do something, for example by signing a contract:

• Last month, the shipbuilding industry contracted to export 16 vessels.

contract in phrasal verb [intransitive]
to agree officially to take part in an arrangement:

• The company pension scheme was started last June, and since then 1500 employees have contracted in.

contract out phrasal verb
1. [intransitive] to agree officially not to take part in an arrangement:

• If your company uses the state pension scheme and you want to contract out, then you can also have a personal pension.

2. [transitive] contract something out HUMAN RESOURCES to arrange to have a job done by a person outside your organization

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contract UK US /ˈkɒntrækt/ noun [C]
LAW a formal agreement between two people or companies, or a legal document that explains the details of this agreement: contract for sth »

The contract for the new drilling platform went to a Dutch company.

contract to do sth »

He recently landed a contract to write a book about his expedition.

contract with sb »

State agencies spent about $319 million on contracts with private vendors last year.

contract between sb and sb »

It is a standard contract between a home seller and their agent.


An independent contractor is legally responsible for job completion and, on quitting, becomes liable for breach of contract.


draw up/write up a contract


enter into/sign a contract


be awarded/win/land a contract


a long-term/short-term contract

See Note AGREEMENT(Cf. ↑agreement)
FINANCE, STOCK MARKET a formal agreement relating to buying or selling a stock, currency, commodity, etc. for a particular price at a particular time: »

An option differs from a futures contract, in which both parties make a binding agreement to buy or sell currency at some point in the future.

be under contract — Cf. be under contract
put sth out to contract — Cf. put sth out to contract
contract UK US /kənˈtrækt/ verb
[I] ECONOMICS if a market or economy contracts, less money is being earned, spent, or invested in it: contract by 3%/5%, etc. »

The country’s economy contracted by 2% in the first quarter.

[I or T] LAW to make a legal agreement with another person or company, for example, to do work for them or to use their services: be contracted to do sth »

A local architecture firm was contracted to design and plan the new symphony hall.

contract UK US /ˈkɒntrækt/ adjective [before noun] UK
WORKPLACE contract workers are paid by companies or other organizations to work on a particular job, but are not employees of those companies, organizations, etc.: »

Many contract workers provide services once handled in-house by the military.


New and growing businesses often initially hire contract labor to prevent overstaffing and runaway overheads.


contract computing staff

Compare FREELANCE(Cf. ↑freelance) adjective

Financial and business terms. 2012.

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