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

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for circumstance

Synonyms

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web But that didn’t keep Cody Parkey from re-signing with the Browns after reaching free agency last month, creating an unusual circumstance for him and his NFL team. Mark Inabinett | Minabinett@al.com, al, "Cody Parkey: ‘It’s a great time to be a Cleveland Brown’," 11 Apr. 2021 The definition of stigma is a mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality or person. Marcia Crismond, sun-sentinel.com, "Removing the stigma of addiction could save lives | Opinion," 8 Apr. 2021 The decision clears Google of all wrongdoing, but only applies to this narrow circumstance. Nicolás Rivero, Quartz, "Google won the battle to make API fair use, but the war will rage on," 7 Apr. 2021 Tramp Stamp Granny’s has been closed since March 12, 2020, and will remain closed through the orange tier out of a combination of circumstance and caution. Stephanie Breijo, Los Angeles Times, "Bar owners weigh reopening as Los Angeles moves to orange tier," 3 Apr. 2021 Two people who have met by chance and circumstance. Rachel Epstein, Marie Claire, "'This Close to Okay' Is a Reminder That It's Alright to Struggle," 1 Apr. 2021 In Cincinnati, Opening Day is an occasion marked by pomp, circumstance and lots of attendees who won’t go to another game all year. Paul Daugherty, The Enquirer, "Paul Daugherty: Opening Day works best as a concept. Nothing wrong with that.," 1 Apr. 2021 Drew was very nearly placed in an uncomfortable circumstance on Monday at Lucas Oil Stadium. New York Times, "Baylor Passes Biggest Test of Tournament and Oral Roberts Falters," 27 Mar. 2021 This was also a little bit of an unusual circumstance. Andy Larsen, The Salt Lake Tribune, "The Triple Team: Mitchell gets to the line 16 times; Snyder plays Gobert and Ingles entire 4th quarter as Jazz get key win against Raptors," 19 Mar. 2021

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about circumstance

Time Traveler for circumstance

Time Traveler

The first known use of circumstance was in the 13th century

See more words from the same century

Statistics for circumstance

Last Updated

16 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Circumstance.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/circumstance. Accessed 17 Apr. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on circumstance

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

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

The Exceptions Quiz III

  • one green toy robot amidst many red toy robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
 AlphaBear 2

Spell words. Make bears.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!