\ ˈchan(t)s \

Definition of chance 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a : something that happens unpredictably without discernible human intention or observable cause Which cards you are dealt is simply a matter of chance.

b : the assumed impersonal purposeless determiner of unaccountable happenings : luck an outcome decided by chance

c : the fortuitous or incalculable element in existence : contingency … you surely have endured strange chances —Alfred Tennyson

2 : a situation favoring some purpose : opportunity needed a chance to relax

3 : a fielding opportunity in baseball

4a : the possibility of a particular outcome in an uncertain situation What chance has he of pulling through? also : the degree of likelihood of such an outcome a small chance of success

b chances plural : the more likely indications chances are he's already gone

5a : risk not taking any chances

b : a raffle ticket

by chance

: in the haphazard course of events they met by chance


chanced; chancing

Definition of chance (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

1a : to take place, come about, or turn out by chance : happen it chanced to rain that day

b : to have the good or bad luck we chanced to meet

2 : to come or light by chance they chanced upon a remote inn

transitive verb

1 : to leave the outcome of to chance

2 : to accept the hazard of : risk knew the trip was dangerous but decided to chance it

chance one's arm

British : to take a risk

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Other words from chance


chance adjective

Synonyms & Antonyms for chance

Synonyms: Noun

adventure, enterprise, flier (also flyer), gamble, speculation, throw, venture

Synonyms: Verb

be, befall, betide, come, come about, come down, come off, cook, do, go on, happen, occur, pass, transpire

Antonyms: Noun

sure thing

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Examples of chance in a Sentence


This is the chance of a lifetime! Everyone deserves a fair chance of winning the award. If you give me a chance, I know I can do a good job. We didn't have much chance to talk about it. There's a good chance that we'll finish on time. If you are free tonight, is there any chance you could join me for dinner? Which cards you're given is simply a matter of chance.


He couldn't chance playing with a broken toe. I don't think we should chance driving in this snowstorm.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Toby Alderweireld denied England’s best chance of the game, sliding on the goal line to clear a shot from Eric Dier. James Ellingsworth,, "Belgium claims third place at World Cup," 14 July 2018 Central Florida has a 30 percent chance of rain, with a high temperature expected of about 94 degrees, according to meteorologists at Fox affiliate WOFL-Ch. Stephen Ruiz,, "Orlando weather: Heat again is on, and so is chance of rain," 13 July 2018 The chances that either Ms Collins or Ms Murkowski will vote against Mr Kavanaugh seem remote. The Economist, "Brett Kavanaugh could shape the law for the next 40 years," 12 July 2018 Clouds pop up at times and a brief stray shower can’t be ruled out in the afternoon (best chance east of town). David Streit, Washington Post, "D.C.-area forecast: Seasonably warm today with a stray shower possible; more humid this weekend," 12 July 2018 Why is June given so many chances to escape, and the other, less charismatic handmaids forced to live out their days in ignominy?, "The Handmaid's Tale Recap Season 2, Episode 13: The Martha Express," 11 July 2018 But the chances of monsoon rains sending torrents of water into the cave and making the rescue effort too risky is never far from the minds of everyone involved in the operation. Kaweewit Kaewjinda And Stephen Wright, Houston Chronicle, "Amid jubilation, 4 more boys rescued from flooded Thai cave," 10 July 2018 After the reality star's lips appeared to inflate overnight in 2014, the world has been obsessed with trying to replicate her exaggerated look with every chance, treatment, and product possible. Lisa Desantis,, "Kylie Jenner Looks Totally Different After Having Her Lip Filler Removed," 9 July 2018 With an aging roster, and a lack of trust between James and the front office, the Cavs no longer gave James the best chance to play on a championship contender in both the short-term and long-term. Alex Wong, The Atlantic, "What’s Different About LeBron’s Move to the Lakers," 4 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The old rivals leave nothing to chance, especially now. Tyler Kepner, New York Times, "Red Sox Fine-Tune Their Roster for a Visit With the Yankees," 29 June 2018 Cubs shortstop Javier Baez didn't want to leave anything to chance. Andrew Joseph, USA TODAY, "Baez's antics turned into game-stopping argument," 22 Apr. 2018 Fifth, never leave anything to chance, planning correctly is key to success. Billboard Argentina, Billboard, "Event Producer Luis Lons Talks Bringing Latin Grammy Acoustic Sessions to Argentina: Interview," 14 Mar. 2018 Irving has continually heard questions about his focus and commitment, which is one of the reasons the Cowboys decided to give him the second-round restricted free agent tender of $2.91 million, chancing him to be poached in free agency. Clarence E. Hill Jr., star-telegram, "DT David Irving explains issues that kept him away; says life is now under control," 14 June 2018 Purdue Pharma left almost nothing to chance in its whirlwind marketing of its new painkiller OxyContin. NBC News, "How America got hooked on a deadly drug," 14 June 2018 But McConnell apparently believes that all 49 Democrats, even the ones facing tough elections in red states, will line up against a prospective pick, and wants to leave nothing to chance. Benjamin Hart, Daily Intelligencer, "Supreme Court Countdown: Who’s Got the Inside Track?," 8 July 2018 Purdue Pharma left almost nothing to chance in its whirlwind marketing of its new painkiller OxyContin. NBC News, "How America got hooked on a deadly drug," 14 June 2018 According to a press release, engineering student Mario Tobia chanced upon the sculpture during a dig at the Abel site, located south of the Israel-Lebanon border, last summer. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian, "Could This Sculpted Head Depict a Little-Known Biblical King?," 11 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'chance.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of chance


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


14th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for chance


Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Vulgar Latin *cadentia fall, from Latin cadent-, cadens, present participle of cadere to fall; perhaps akin to Sanskrit śad- to fall off


see chance entry 1

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Learn More about chance

Dictionary Entries near chance






chance child


Statistics for chance

Last Updated

20 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for chance

The first known use of chance was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for chance



English Language Learners Definition of chance

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: an opportunity to do something : an amount of time or a situation in which something can be done

: the possibility that something will happen

: the way that events happen when they are not planned or controlled by people



English Language Learners Definition of chance (Entry 2 of 2)

: to accept the danger of (doing something)


\ ˈchans \

Kids Definition of chance

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : the happening of events that is not planned or controlled They met by chance.

2 : opportunity sense 1 I had a chance to travel.

3 : risk entry 1 sense 1, gamble take chances

4 : the possibility that something will happen There's a slight chance of rain.

5 : a ticket in a raffle He bought five chances.


chanced; chancing

Kids Definition of chance (Entry 2 of 3)

1 : to take place without planning : to happen by luck “I merely chanced to overhear Mr. McGrath remark that he was starting it …” —Robert Lawson, Rabbit Hill

2 : to find or meet unexpectedly I chanced on a bargain.

3 : to accept the danger of : risk He couldn't chance another injury.



Kids Definition of chance (Entry 3 of 3)

: happening without being planned a chance meeting

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Comments on chance

What made you want to look up chance? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


occurring twice a year or every two years

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