An agreement between two or more persons that creates an obligation to do or not to do a particular thing.

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Additional Sources

An agreement between two or more parties, especially one that is written and enforceable by law. See synonims at bargain.

The writing or document containing such an agreement.

Duhaime Legal Dictionary

An agreement between at least two persons which is enforceable at law.

At common law, a contract requires three elements:

1. A "meeting of the minds" (also known as consensus ad idem or an offer coupled with an acceptance);

2. In common law jurisdictions, that elusive concept of consideration (something must flow from each party); and

3. Compliance with common law or statute law such as the subject matter of the contract must not be illegal and the parties must “competent to contract” (corporations or adults but not the mentally disabled).

Encyclopedia Britannica

Agreement between two or more parties that creates for each party a duty to do something (e.g., to provide goods at a certain price according to a specified schedule) or a duty not to do something (e.g., to divulge an employer’s trade secrets or financial status to third parties).

A party’s failure to honour a contract allows the other party or parties to bring an action for damages in a court of law, though arbitration may also be pursued in an effort to keep the matter confidential. In order to be valid, a contract must be entered into both willingly and freely. A contract that violates this principle, including one made with a legal minor or a person deemed mentally incompetent, may be declared unenforceable. A contract also must have a lawful objective. Dictionary

An agreement with specific terms between two or more persons or entities in which there is a promise to do something in return for a valuable benefit known as consideration. Since the law of contracts is at the heart of most business dealings, it is one of the three or four most significant areas of legal concern and can involve variations on circumstances and complexities. The existence of a contract requires finding the following factual elements: a) an offer; b) an acceptance of that offer which results in a meeting of the minds; c) a promise to perform; d) a valuable consideration (which can be a promise or payment in some form); e) a time or event when performance must be made (meet commitments); f) terms and conditions for performance, including fulfilling promises; g) performance, if the contract is "unilateral". A unilateral contract is one in which there is a promise to pay or give other consideration in return for actual performance. (I will pay you $500 to fix my car by Thursday; the performance is fixing the car by that date.) A bilateral contract is one in which a promise is exchanged for a promise. (I promise to fix your car by Thursday and you promise to pay $500 on Thursday.) Contracts can be either written or oral, but oral contracts are more difficult to prove and in most jurisdictions the time to sue on the contract is shorter (such as two years for oral compared to four years for written). In some cases a contract can consist of several documents, such as a series of letters, orders, offers and counteroffers. There are a variety of types of contracts: "conditional" on an event occurring; "joint and several," in which several parties make a joint promise to perform, but each is responsible; "implied," in which the courts will determine there is a contract based on the circumstances. Parties can contract to supply all of another's requirements, buy all the products made, or enter into an option to renew a contract. The variations are almost limitless. Contracts for illegal purposes are not enforceable at law. 2) v. to enter into an agreement.

Lect Law Library

An agreement between two or more competent parties in which an offer is made and accepted, and each party benefits. The agreement can be formal, informal, written, oral or just plain understood. Some contracts are required to be in writing in order to be enforced. (2) An agreement between two or more parties which creates obligations to do or not do the specific things that are the subject of that agreement. Examples of a contract are a lease, a promissory note, or a rental agreement.

This term, in its more extensive sense, includes every description of agreement, or obligation, whereby one party becomes bound to another to pay a sum of money, or to do or omit to do a certain act; or, a contract is an act which contains a perfect obligation. In its more confined sense, it is an agreement between two or more persons, concerning something to be, done, whereby both parties are hound to each other, or one is bound to the other. Blackstone defines it to be an agreement, upon a sufficient consideration, to do or not to do a particular thing. A contract has also been defined to be a compact between two or more persons.

A formal agreement between two parties, in which an offer is made and accepted, and both sides benefit.

Merriam Webster

A binding agreement between two or more persons or parties.


In law, a contract is a binding legal agreement that is enforceable in a court of law. That is to say, a contract is an exchange of promises for the breach of which the law will provide a remedy.

Agreement is said to be reached when an offer capable of immediate acceptance is met with a "mirror image" acceptance (ie, an unqualified acceptance). The parties must have the necessary capacity to contract and the contract must not be either trifling, indeterminate, impossible or illegal. Contract law is based on the principle expressed in the Latin phrase pacta sunt servanda (usually translated "pacts must be kept", but more literally "agreements are to be kept"). Breach of contract is recognized by the law and remedies can be provided.