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noun in·stance \ˈin(t)-stən(t)s\

Simple Definition of instance

  • : an example of a particular type of action or situation : an occasion of something happening

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of instance

  1. 1 a archaic :  urgent or earnest solicitation b :  instigation, request <am writing to you at the instance of my client> c obsolete :  an impelling cause or motive

  2. 2 a archaic :  exception b :  an individual illustrative of a category or brought forward in support or disproof of a generalization c obsolete :  token, sign

  3. 3 :  the institution and prosecution of a lawsuit :  suit

  4. 4 :  a step, stage, or situation viewed as part of a process or series of events <prefers, in this instance, to remain anonymous — Times Literary Supplement>

for instance

play \fə-ˈrin(t)-stən(t)s, ˈfrin(t)-\
  1. :  as an instance or example <older people, like my grandmother, for instance>

Examples of instance in a sentence

  1. an instance of great courage

  2. These delays are just another instance of bureaucratic inefficiency.

  3. In most instances the disease can be controlled by medication.

  4. They have decided not to oppose the decision in this instance.

14th Century

First Known Use of instance

14th century

Synonym Discussion of instance

instance, case, illustration, example, sample, specimen mean something that exhibits distinguishing characteristics in its category. instance applies to any individual person, act, or thing that may be offered to illustrate or explain <an instance of history repeating itself>. case is used to direct attention to a real or assumed occurrence or situation that is to be considered, studied, or dealt with <a case of mistaken identity>. illustration applies to an instance offered as a means of clarifying or illuminating a general statement <a telling illustration of Murphy's Law>. example applies to a typical, representative, or illustrative instance or case <a typical example of bureaucratic waste>. sample implies a part or unit taken at random from a larger whole and so presumed to be typical of its qualities <show us a sample of your work>. specimen applies to any example or sample whether representative or merely existent and available <one of the finest specimens of the jeweler's art>.



verb in·stance

Definition of instance



  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 :  to illustrate or demonstrate by an instance

  3. 2 :  to mention as a case or example :  cite

Examples of instance in a sentence

  1. <instanced one particular incident as an illustration of their penchant for practical jokes>

  2. <instanced the latest astronomical research in her presentation on measuring star magnitude>


First Known Use of instance


INSTANCE Defined for Kids


noun in·stance \ˈin-stəns\

Definition of instance for Students

  1. 1 :  a particular occurrence of something :  example <an instance of true bravery>

  2. 2 :  a certain point or situation in a process or series of events <In most instances, the medicine helps.>

Law Dictionary


noun in·stance \ˈin-stəns\

Legal Definition of instance

  1. :  the institution or prosecution of a lawsuit <a court of first instance>

Origin and Etymology of instance

French, from Late Latin instantia, from Latin, the fact of being present or impending, vehemence in speech, urgency, from instant-, instans insistent, pressing, from present participle of instare to be pressing, stand upon

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different from the usual or normal

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