\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, crapshoot, enterprise, flier (also flyer), flutter [chiefly British], gamble, speculation, throw, venture

Synonyms: Verb

be, befall, betide, come, come about, come down, come off, cook, do, go down [slang], go on, hap, 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

The series has also been a chance for the veteran cast to swap stories from the heydays of the '80s and '90s. Jessica Radloff, Glamour, "The Parents of Riverdale Were All Really Famous Teens—And Yes, They Have Stories," 7 Nov. 2018 For Jeff Berlin, this second volume is a chance to see his mother explore territory that, if not exactly happier in theme, isn’t centered on the addiction that plagued her in her later years. Bridget Read, Vogue, "How Lucia Berlin Became A Literary Superstar 11 Years After Her Death (And Is About to Publish A New Collection)," 5 Nov. 2018 Discover it for yourself by entering for a chance to win a 2-night/3-day Dallas getaway, including Dallas Food Tour tickets! Condé Naste Traveler: Post, "Discover Dallas Sweepstakes," 26 Oct. 2018 That opportunity came by chance in 1991, when eight scientists entered Biosphere 2, an enclosed artificial ecological system near Tucson, Arizona. Mark Barna, Discover Magazine, "Not So Fast," 24 Sep. 2018 Either way, the next 45 days may be the best chance Opportunity has left. Meghan Bartels,, "NASA Starts 45-Day Clock to Contact Mars Rover Opportunity as Dust Storm Wanes," 12 Sep. 2018 With the addition of better cooling, there's a very good chance the New XPS 13 9570 with a Core i3 will match the older XPS 13 9560 with a Core i5-7200U inside of it. Gordon Mah Ung, PCWorld, "Dell's cheapest XPS 13 yet, the 9370 is just $900," 28 Aug. 2018 Not many chances are left to see New Odyssey, known as the three-member band that plays 30 different instruments. Sheryl Devore, Lake County News-Sun, "Zion concert is part of New Odyssey's final year of concerts," 12 July 2018 In the bottom of the seventh, the IronBirds finally cashed in on another scoring chance. Chris Jeter, The Aegis, "Back home, IronBirds snap losing skid with 6-1 win over Brooklyn," 12 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Showers chances increase especially in the afternoon but are likely to very scattered. David Streit, Washington Post, "D.C.-area forecast: Seasonably warm today with a stray shower possible; more humid this weekend," 12 July 2018 An Outer Party member could reach the Inner Party by chancing into an early job at a lottery-ticket company (such as a Facebook or Google) or by becoming a successful entrepreneur. Antonio García Martínez, WIRED, "How Silicon Valley Fuels an Informal Caste System," 9 July 2018 The lack of top level European competition could well put Brozović off joining the club, which would open the door to other potential suitors to chance their arm at luring in the midfielder with an offer., "PL Clubs Handed Boost in Pursuit of Inter Midfielder as Player's Agent Claims Future Is Uncertain," 14 June 2018 If European nations provided more safe opportunities for migration, through temporary labor visas for example, migrants might be less willing to chance a sea crossing. Aryn Baker, Time, "How One Migrant Ship Became a Symptom of a Sick Europe," 12 June 2018 There is, however, that one potential game to chance all of that. Jonathan Feigen, Houston Chronicle, "A look at the Rockets' potential first-round opponents," 10 Apr. 2018 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

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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Dictionary Entries near chance






chance child


Statistics for chance

Last Updated

15 Nov 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).


to clear from alleged fault or guilt

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