circumstance

noun
cir·​cum·​stance | \ ˈsər-kəm-ˌstan(t)s How to pronounce circumstance (audio) , -stən(t)s\

Definition of circumstance

1a : a condition, fact, or event accompanying, conditioning, or determining another : an essential or inevitable concomitant the weather is a circumstance to be taken into consideration
b : a subordinate or accessory (see accessory entry 2 sense 2) fact or detail cost is a minor circumstance in this case
c : a piece of evidence that indicates the probability or improbability of an event (such as a crime) the circumstance of the missing weapon told against him the circumstances suggest murder
2a : the sum of essential and environmental factors (as of an event or situation) constant and rapid change in economic circumstance— G. M. Trevelyan
b : state of affairs : eventuality open rebellion was a rare circumstance often used in plural a victim of circumstances
c circumstances plural : situation with regard to wealth he was in easy circumstances rose from difficult circumstances
3 : attendant formalities and ritualistic display especially as contrasted with essential procedure pride, pomp, and circumstance of glorious war— William Shakespeare
4 : an event that constitutes a detail (as of a narrative or course of events) considering each circumstance in turn

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Synonyms for circumstance

Synonyms

destiny, doom, fate, fortune, kismet, lot, portion

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Choose the Right Synonym for circumstance

occurrence, event, incident, episode, circumstance mean something that happens or takes place. occurrence may apply to a happening without intent, volition, or plan. an encounter that was a chance occurrence event usually implies an occurrence of some importance and frequently one having antecedent cause. the events following the assassination incident suggests an occurrence of brief duration or secondary importance. a minor wartime incident episode stresses the distinctiveness or apartness of an incident. a brief romantic episode in a life devoted to work circumstance implies a specific detail attending an action or event as part of its setting or background. couldn't recall the exact circumstances

Examples of circumstance in a Sentence

I can't imagine a circumstance in which I would do that. The circumstances of his death are suspicious. She says that her client is a victim of circumstance and should not be blamed for the accident. He was a victim of circumstances.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Nissan's latest driver-assist system, dubbed ProPilot 2.0, offers a hands-free driving mode under certain circumstances. Joey Capparella, Car and Driver, "Nissan Now Has a Hands-Free Highway Driving System to Rival Cadillac's Super Cruise," 17 May 2019 Under ordinary maritime circumstances, the missile boats could move at just 12 knots. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "The U.S. Navy Has a Secret Hydrofoil Project," 10 Apr. 2019 Block out a special time The thrill of getting caught may be hot under certain circumstances, but chances are, knowing someone might walk in any minute will be a mood-killer, says Mintz. Suzannah Weiss, Glamour, "The Best 7 Masturbation Tips to Get You Super Turned On When You're Solo," 23 Mar. 2019 Can circumstances change regarding who does and doesn't have rights? Rory Taylor, Teen Vogue, "How Rights of Nature Legislation Affords Legal Standing, or Personhood, to Natural Entities," 22 Apr. 2019 Illuminate the instances in which the livelihood of the black community was prioritized, considering the circumstances that put us into less-privileged spaces to begin with. Rachel Elizabeth Cargle, Harper's BAZAAR, "Why You Need to Stop Saying "All Lives Matter"," 16 Apr. 2019 When the market is volatile, and people see their money going down in value, many people are fearful and reactive to these circumstances. WSJ, "Not All Financial Planning Is Created Equal," 15 Apr. 2019 Lori Loughlin and her husband Mossimo Giannulli’s alleged involvement in a massive college admissions scam has led to some very serious circumstances. Megan Stein, Country Living, "Is Hallmark Cancelling 'When Calls the Heart' Following the Lori Loughlin Scandal?," 15 Mar. 2019 Future historians would argue if the famous rocket engineer was a victim of circumstance or a 20th-century Faust, making a deal with the devil in search for knowledge. Alex Hollings, Popular Mechanics, "The Saturn V Story: From Nazi Roots to America's Moon Rocket," 6 Feb. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'circumstance.' 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 circumstance

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for circumstance

Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin circumstantia, from circumstant-, circumstans, present participle of circumstare to stand around, from circum- + stare to stand — more at stand

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More Definitions for circumstance

circumstance

noun

English Language Learners Definition of circumstance

: a condition or fact that affects a situation
: the way something happens : the specific details of an event
: an event or situation that you cannot control

circumstance

noun
cir·​cum·​stance | \ ˈsər-kəm-ˌstans How to pronounce circumstance (audio) \

Kids Definition of circumstance

1 : a fact or event that affects a situation Illness is the only circumstance that will excuse your absence.
2 circumstances plural : conditions at a certain time or place Under the circumstances, I think we did well.
3 circumstances plural : the way something happens Please explain the circumstances of the accident.
4 circumstances plural : the conditions in which someone lives “When the Lord puts us in certain circumstances He doesn't mean for us to imagine them away.”— Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables
5 : an uncontrollable event or situation a victim of circumstance

circumstance

noun
cir·​cum·​stance

Legal Definition of circumstance

1a : a condition, fact, or event accompanying, conditioning, or determining another must state with particularity the circumstances constituting fraud or mistakeFederal Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 9(b)
b : a piece of evidence that indicates the probability or improbability of an event a statement…offered to exculpate the accused is not admissible unless corroborating circumstances clearly indicate the trustworthiness of the statementState v. Lopez, 764 P.2d 1111 (1988)
2  plural : situation with regard to wealth the circumstances of the parties before the divorce

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Comments on circumstance

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