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
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
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and resentment of the people to whom he spoke, but his words were somehow tentative and contingent, as if they could be withdrawn on a month's notice.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
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
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
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>.
See contingent defined for English-language learners
Examples of CONTINGENT
The group that makes up the largest contingent of voters in this area is the elderly.
A contingent of reporters waited in front of the court for the defendant to appear.
A British contingent was sent to assist the security forces.
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
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
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