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What's the difference between "content" and "contented"?

I feel content with my present condition.

I feel contented with my present condition.

When she calls me by my name sweetly, I feel contented.

When she calls me by my name sweetly, I feel content.

Hopefully, that'd be enough examples. One with the preposition, one without.

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    First, it's content with and contented with; never of. Second, there is really no difference between one's unspecified emotional state (content) and a state reached as a result of some phenomenon acting on one (contented). – John Lawler Jan 27 '14 at 3:21
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    @JohnLawler Done. – Double U Jan 27 '14 at 3:26
  • Though there is no difference between the two words one might ask why there are two variants. "content" is the Latin/French form, an adjective derived from a Latin past participle. "contented is derived from the Latin/English verb to content. So we have the same word in the Latin form and the English form. – rogermue Jan 27 '14 at 19:55
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I would suggest that contented is slightly narrower in meaning than content. contented carries the suggestion that the emotion is caused by circumstances, whereas content does not.

The adjective content is complete in itself. It describes a state of being / mind. We can learn to become content with our life, even if it is not the life we would have wished for.

By contrast, the grammatical structure of I am contented suggests that it might be the passive form of X contents me, which implies that some unspecified thing is causing that feeling. One might feel contented by the embrace of a loved one.

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My (AusE) intuition is that the "contented" has a warmer, fuzzier feeling associated with it. I'd guess that comes from its use in literature ("They lay down, contentedly in front of the fire."), whereas the shorter form is commonly used in modern newspapers ("The union said they were content with the current arrangement.")

So, I would say "contented" has more of an emotional effect ("pleasantly happy"), while "content" is more neutral ("satisfied"). I have nothing to back this up with. :)

  • Cool. It seems you've cited a newspaper or literature. Can you specify the actual book or newspaper issue? – Double U Jan 29 '14 at 12:35
  • Is that a requirement of answers? I'm new here. – Steve Bennett Jan 30 '14 at 9:12
  • I don't know either. I'm only asking, because having the actual source ensures that the person is not making stuff up. :) – Double U Jan 30 '14 at 14:51
  • @SteveBennett. It's A Very Good Idea. Highly Recommended. – Spencer Nov 11 at 15:20

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