circumstance

noun
cir·​cum·​stance | \ˈsər-kᵊm-ˌstan(t)s, -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

What this episode shows is that under the right circumstances, the controversial no-platforming tactics — which range from activists noisily disrupting speeches to big tech corporations banning provocateurs from their platforms — really can work. Zack Beauchamp, Vox, "Milo Yiannopoulos’s collapse shows that no-platforming can work," 5 Dec. 2018 While most countries are queasy with the idea of germline editing, some would condone it under appropriate circumstances. Jacqueline Detwiler, Popular Mechanics, "Legal vs. Illegal Gene Editing: Here's What's Banned, and Why," 4 Dec. 2018 Wilder things have happened on this show, and people have been saved under more impossible circumstances! Mehera Bonner, Harper's BAZAAR, "Outlander Season 4 Episode 2: Claire and Jamie Face the Realities of Life in America," 12 Nov. 2018 And then Olivia dies under mysterious circumstances. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "Netflix's The Haunting of Hill House Is Basically a Scary This Is Us," 16 Oct. 2018 Foy is telling me about the domestic scenes in First Man, in which her character, Janet, grapples with the pressure of trying to lead a normal life under increasingly abnormal circumstances. Nathan Heller, Vogue, "Claire Foy on Becoming a Mother and Trading Her Crown for a Dragon Tattoo," 10 Oct. 2018 Nobody can prove their innocence under circumstances like this. Fox News, "Levin: Democrats and the judicial confirmation process," 24 Sep. 2018 But circumstances for some children have not changed. Hope Yen, The Seattle Times, "Fact-checking President Trump on migrants, Saudis, Hispanic vote," 22 Oct. 2018 Under no circumstances should Brett Kavanaugh be confirmed absent a full and complete investigation. Cady Drell, Marie Claire, "Christine Blasey Ford's Testimony—Here's Everything You Should Know," 26 Sep. 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

circumstances : 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 \

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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