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

Simple Definition of contingency

  • : something (such as an emergency) that might happen

Full Definition of contingency

plural con·tin·gen·cies

  1. 1 :  the quality or state of being contingent

  2. 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

Examples of contingency

  1. 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

  2. It is difficult to distinguish all the legitimate and illegitimate kinds and uses of information. Writing laws to regulate all contingencies is like trying to capture broth in a colander. —George F. Will, Newsweek, 2 Mar. 1987

  3. Was it merely the expression of her displeasure at Miss Bart's neglect, or had disquieting rumours reached her? The latter contingency seemed improbable, yet Lily was not without a sense of uneasiness. —Edith Wharton, The House of Mirth, 1905

  4. In making our business plans, we tried to prepare for any contingency that might hurt sales.

  5. <agencies trying to provide for every contingency in a national emergency>

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>.

Seen and Heard

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February 12, 2016

of, relating to, or suggestive of marble

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