Dictionary

contingency

noun con·tin·gen·cy \kən-ˈtin-jən(t)-sē\

: something (such as an emergency) that might happen

plural con·tin·gen·cies

Full Definition of CONTINGENCY

1
:  the quality or state of being contingent
2
:  a contingent event or condition: as
a :  an event (as an emergency) that may but is not certain to occur <trying to provide for every contingency>
b :  something liable to happen as an adjunct to or result of something else
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Examples of CONTINGENCY

  1. In making our business plans, we tried to prepare for any contingency that might hurt sales.
  2. <agencies trying to provide for every contingency in a national emergency>
  3. Nothing was overlooked. There was a fallback position, a fail-safe provision, for any contingency. —Gary Wills, New York Times Review of Books, 1 Apr. 2001

Origin of CONTINGENCY

(see 1contingent)
First Known Use: 1561

Synonym Discussion of CONTINGENCY

juncture, exigency, emergency, contingency, pinch, straits, crisis mean a critical or crucial time or state of affairs. juncture stresses the significant concurrence or convergence of events <an important juncture in our country's history>. exigency stresses the pressure of restrictions or urgency of demands created by a special situation <provide for exigencies>. emergency applies to a sudden unforeseen situation requiring prompt action to avoid disaster <the presence of mind needed to deal with emergencies>. contingency implies an emergency or exigency that is regarded as possible but uncertain of occurrence <contingency plans>. pinch implies urgency or pressure for action to a less intense degree than exigency or emergency <come through in a pinch>. straits applies to a troublesome situation from which escape is extremely difficult <in dire straits>. crisis applies to a juncture whose outcome will make a decisive difference <a crisis of confidence>.

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