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

While a sitz bath can be really helpful in certain circumstances, sitting in a bit of water can’t do it all. Carolyn L. Todd, SELF, "What the Hell Is a Sitz Bath? (And Why Would You Take One?)," 14 Mar. 2019 Not developing a thick skin Most employees spend 40 hours with the same people every week, sometimes in stressful circumstances. Valencia Higuera, The Seattle Times, "9 biggest career mistakes college grads make," 20 Feb. 2019 During their first royal engagement of the year, Harry and Meghan chose to meet with a group of women from the charity, Tomorrow’s Women Wirral, a cause which aims to support women in vulnerable circumstances. Lucy Wood, Marie Claire, "Prince Harry Confirmed He's a Proud Feminist, Just in Case There Was Any Doubt," 15 Jan. 2019 But at a time when the number of drones—hobbyist and commercial—will only increase, is there anything airports and governments can do to safeguard against delays, and, in the worst circumstances, fatal collisions? David Hambling, Popular Mechanics, "What Are Airports Going to Do About Drones?," 9 Jan. 2019 Support groups, on the other hand, are typically led by people who have experience living with a certain condition or under specific circumstances (though in less common instances, a mental health professional might lead a support group). Brittany Risher, SELF, "How to Know If Group Therapy Might Be Right for You," 14 Feb. 2019 Under no circumstance should the Legislature revive the effort to pass a Millionaires Tax. Jason Lewis, BostonGlobe.com, "Should the Legislature revive the push for a millionaires tax?," 5 July 2018 Under those circumstances, why not just set about collecting the money from Mexico? Matthew Yglesias, Vox, "I’m starting to think Mexico isn’t going to pay for the wall," 20 Dec. 2018 So whether this is Apple being judicious or merely limited by circumstance, its first 5G device is a long way off. Vlad Savov, The Verge, "Apple is right: 2019 will be too early to buy a 5G phone," 5 Dec. 2018

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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