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circumstance

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noun cir·cum·stance \ˈsər-kəm-ˌstan(t)s, -stən(t)s\

Simple Definition of circumstance

  • : a condition or fact that affects a situation

  • circumstances : the way something happens : the specific details of an event

  • : an event or situation that you cannot control

Full Definition of circumstance

  1. 1 a :  a condition, fact, or event accompanying, conditioning, or determining another :  an essential or inevitable concomitant <the weather is a circumstance to be taken into consideration> b :  a subordinate or accessory fact or detail <cost is a minor circumstance in this case> c :  a piece of evidence that indicates the probability or improbability of an event (as a crime) <the circumstance of the missing weapon told against him> <the circumstances suggest murder>

  2. 2 a :  the sum of essential and environmental factors (as of an event or situation) <constant and rapid change in economic circumstance — G. M. Trevelyan> b :  state of affairs :  eventuality <open rebellion was a rare circumstance> —often used in plural <a victim of circumstances> c plural :  situation with regard to wealth <he was in easy circumstances> <rose from difficult circumstances>

  3. 3 :  attendant formalities and ceremonial <pride, pomp, and circumstance of glorious war — Shakespeare>

  4. 4 :  an event that constitutes a detail (as of a narrative or course of events) <considering each circumstance in turn>

Examples of circumstance

  1. I can't imagine a circumstance in which I would do that.

  2. The circumstances of his death are suspicious.

  3. She says that her client is a victim of circumstance and should not be blamed for the accident.

  4. He was a victim of circumstances.



Origin of circumstance

Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin circumstantia, from circumstant-, circumstans, present participle of circumstare to stand around, from circum- + stare to stand — more at stand


First Known Use: 13th century

Synonym Discussion of circumstance

occurrence, event, incident, episode, circumstance mean something that happens or takes place. occurrence may apply to a happening without intent, volition, or plan <an encounter that was a chance occurrence>. event usually implies an occurrence of some importance and frequently one having antecedent cause <the events following the assassination>. incident suggests an occurrence of brief duration or secondary importance <a minor wartime incident>. episode stresses the distinctiveness or apartness of an incident <a brief romantic episode in a life devoted to work>. circumstance implies a specific detail attending an action or event as part of its setting or background <couldn't recall the exact circumstances>.



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