Compressional and contractional tectonics are of interest to various researchers, from rock mechanics and engineering to those studying the hazards, dynamics, and evolution of plate boundaries. We summarize here the terminology regarding deformation associated with compressional and contractional tectonics. We describe the now largely discarded geosyncline theory, which has its roots in contraction. Today, plate tectonics is the primary theory for explaining the processes shaping the Earth, including earthquakes, volcanoes, and mountain ranges. We emphasize the importance of subduction zones, the most extensive recycling system on the planet, and suture zones, complex boundaries marking the collision zone between two plates. The effects and hazards associated with convergent and collisional plate boundaries are felt far afield and for long distances.