\ ˈchan(t)s How to pronounce chance (audio) \

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 for chance

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

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Examples of chance in a Sentence

Noun 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. Verb 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 These launches are subject to strict engineering reviews to minimize the chance that something will go wrong and waste years of effort. Daniel Oberhaus, Wired, "How NASA Certifies New Spacecraft Safe Enough for Humans," 13 May 2020 The best chance for severe storms on Wednesday will be from west Texas through Oklahoma, and into Kansas. Travis Fedschun, Fox News, "Severe weather expected for millions across Plains before storms target Midwest," 13 May 2020 The 115th Fighter Wing based in Madison jumped on the chance. Meg Jones, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "'It's a great tribute': F-16 flyovers pay tribute to health care workers battling coronavirus in Wisconsin," 12 May 2020 But there are reasons beyond Trump's crumbling Electoral College fortress to be optimistic about the party's chances in the fall, and doubtful of a 2016 repeat. David Faris, TheWeek, "How Trump lost his Electoral College edge to Biden," 12 May 2020 Too many second chances The NCAA has taken the first step, actually: The addition of a lifetime show-cause ruling. Gregg Doyel, Indianapolis Star, "Doyel: Rick Pitino skates -- again -- while Louisville sweats in broken NCAA justice system," 11 May 2020 However, higher rain chances may remain to our north. Jason Samenow, Washington Post, "D.C.-area forecast: Cool weather dissolves midweek and, suddenly, it’s summerlike by the weekend," 11 May 2020 The show has brought plenty of twists and turns over the years, but writing the final chapter allowed Nowalk the chance to really tie up loose ends. Maureen Lee Lenker,, "How to Get Away With Murder promises an 'honorable goodbye' in series finale sneak peek," 11 May 2020 Before Covid-19, both the crowding and the randomness of passenger combinations made elevators a believable spot for chance meetings. Lila Maclellan, Quartz at Work, "Salesforce will reopen in Seoul with Disney-style ticketing for the elevators," 7 May 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb When the White House is occupied by a Republican, Democratic branding is left even more to chance. Joseph O’neill, The New York Review of Books, "Brand New Dems?," 29 Apr. 2020 Better to chance it with the Muni buses than the free-for-all on Mission. Willie Brown,, "Is Joe Biden toast? States that matter are about to tell us," 15 Feb. 2020 While quarantine is standard practice in the weeks leading up to launch, Cassidy said nothing was left to chance this time around. William Harwood, CBS News, "Astronauts brace for return to Earth – and coronavirus: "It is quite surreal for us"," 10 Apr. 2020 Berry left little to chance by signing Conklin, and more moves on the offensive line are expected. cleveland, "GM Andrew Berry and the Browns are playing chess, not throwing darts this offseason: This Week in the Cleveland Browns," 29 Mar. 2020 Most deadheads have small to medium-size racks, but each year a few people chance upon a monster. Mike Hanback, Outdoor Life, "18 Best Tips For Finding Your First Shed Antler," 24 Mar. 2020 Work with the system, and don't leave your destiny—or your shopping list—to chance. Laura Regensdorf, Vogue, "The Best Beauty Gifts for Your Horoscope-Obsessed Friend by Astrological Sign," 13 Dec. 2018 What makes much of that possible is the Chinese culture and strict rules the people must follow, leaving nothing to chance, Dunne said. Jamie L. Lareau, Detroit Free Press, "US can learn how to beat coronavirus from China's best practices," 31 Mar. 2020 As with the Judiciary Committee hearings, as little as possible was left to chance before the cameras came on for five days of often-dramatic testimony., "WASHINGTON — Far from any television camera and a half world away from Ukraine, a few dozen Democratic staff aides, lawyers, and House members are grinding away this weekend in a loose clump of Capitol Hill offices, the beating heart of the impeachment operation against President Donald Trump.," 7 Dec. 2019

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 chaunce, chance "occurrence (especially unforeseen or providential), stroke of good or bad luck, luck, fall of the dice," borrowed from Anglo-French cheaunce, chaunce, chance, going back to Vulgar Latin *cadentia, noun derivative (formally feminine singular from neuter plural) of Latin cadent-, cadens, present participle of cadere "to fall, be cast (of dice, lots), turn out, come to pass," perhaps going back to an Indo-European verbal base *ḱad- or *ḱHd- "fall," whence also Sanskrit śaśāda "(s/he) fell off/out," śatsyati "(s/he) will fall off/out"


Middle English chancen, chaunsen, verbal derivative of chance, chaunce chance entry 1

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Time Traveler for chance

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for chance

Last Updated

16 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Chance.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 May. 2020.

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More Definitions for chance


How to pronounce chance (audio)

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)
formal used to describe something that happens because of luck or chance followed by to + verb


\ ˈchans How to pronounce chance (audio) \

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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