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adjective con·tin·gent \kən-ˈtin-jənt\

Simple Definition of contingent

  • : depending on something else that might or might not happen

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of contingent

  1. 1 :  likely but not certain to happen :  possible

  2. 2 :  not logically necessary; especially :  empirical

  3. 3 a :  happening by chance or unforeseen causes b :  subject to chance or unseen effects :  unpredictable c :  intended for use in circumstances not completely foreseen

  4. 4 :  dependent on or conditioned by something else <payment is contingent on fulfillment of certain conditions>

  5. 5 :  not necessitated :  determined by free choice



Examples of contingent in a sentence

  1. The isolation and co-optation of the capitalist classes in Germany meant that liberty as an ideal had no contingent link with capitalism, as had happened in Western Europe. —Orlando Patterson, New Republic, 8 Nov. 1999

  2. He knows that the throngs cheering for him today will be cheering for someone else tomorrow, that enthusiasm is fickle, that real support for someone like him always has something completely contingent about it. —Andrew Sullivan, New Republic, 8 July 1996

  3. Clearly the President was chastened by the sorrow and resentment of the people to whom he spoke, but his words were somehow tentative and contingent, as if they could be withdrawn on a month's notice. —Lewis H. Lapham, Harper's, July 1992

  4. Every undogmatic historian is aware of the multitude of contingent events that entered into the victory of the Bolshevik revolution. —Sidney Hook, Revolution, Reform & Social Justice, 1975

  5. If the Sovereigns would grant him, contingent on his success, such rank, titles, and property that he and his issue could hold up their heads with the Spanish nobility, well and good … —Samuel Eliot Morison, The European Discovery of America, 1974

Origin and Etymology of contingent

Middle English, from Middle French, from Latin contingent-, contingens, present participle of contingere to have contact with, befall, from com- + tangere to touch — more at tangent

First Known Use: 14th century

Synonym Discussion of contingent

accidental, fortuitous, casual, contingent mean not amenable to planning or prediction. accidental stresses chance <any resemblance to actual persons is entirely accidental>. fortuitous so strongly suggests chance that it often connotes entire absence of cause <a series of fortuitous events>. casual stresses lack of real or apparent premeditation or intent <a casual encounter with a stranger>. contingent suggests possibility of happening but stresses uncertainty and dependence on other future events for existence or occurrence <the contingent effects of the proposed law>.

Rhymes with contingent



noun con·tin·gent \kən-ˈtin-jənt\

Simple Definition of contingent

  • : a group of people who go to a place together, do something together, or share some quality, interest, etc.

  • : a group of soldiers who come from a particular army and are working together with soldiers from other armies

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of contingent

  1. 1 :  something contingent (see 1contingent):  contingency

  2. 2 :  a representative group :  delegation, detachment <a diplomatic contingent>

Examples of contingent in a sentence

  1. Hollywood, Madison Avenue, the FCC, and a growing contingent in corporate America: It's hard to imagine a more formidable alliance pushing segregated television. —Tamar Jacoby, New Republic, 24 Jan. 2000

  2. A Maori contingent, unable to face the intensity of the Turkish fire, sought shelter in a nearby gully. —Martin Gilbert, The First World War, 1994

  3. But just because we banned it [DDT] domestically, under pressure from the bird-watching contingent … it doesn't necessarily follow that the rest of the world was about to jump on the bandwagon. —T. Coraghessan Boyle, Harper's, April 1993

  4. The group that makes up the largest contingent of voters in this area is the elderly.

  5. A contingent of reporters waited in front of the court for the defendant to appear.

  6. A British contingent was sent to assist the security forces.

Origin and Etymology of contingent

(see 1contingent)

First Known Use: 1548

CONTINGENT Defined for Kids


adjective con·tin·gent \kən-ˈtin-jənt\

Definition of contingent for Students

  1. :  depending on something else that may or may not exist or occur <Our trip is contingent on whether we can get tickets.>

Law Dictionary


adjective con·tin·gent \kən-ˈtin-jənt\

Legal Definition of contingent

  1. 1 :  likely but not certain to happen — compare executory

  2. 2 :  intended for use in circumstances not completely foreseen <a contingent fund>

  3. 3 :  dependent on or conditioned by something else <a contingent claim> <a legacy contingent on the marriage> — compare vested

Seen and Heard

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of, relating to, or near a shore

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