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 plurala 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

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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 Homicide detectives are en route to investigate the circumstances and determine if foul play is suspected. Jay R. Jordan, Houston Chronicle, "Police rope off dumpsters after body found in northwest Houston apartment complex," 4 Sep. 2019 The Handle With Care model was initially developed at the West Virginia Center for Children’s Justice to help students cope with traumatic circumstances. Krista Torralva, ExpressNews.com, "‘Trauma doesn’t stop at 4 o’clock’," 28 Aug. 2019 However, this policy ended up generalizing the truancy issue, placing blame on parents with circumstances outside their control. Alexis Jones, Marie Claire, "Kamala Harris' Attorney General Record, Explained," 16 Aug. 2019 No refund of the payments made to date is provided in this circumstance. National Geographic, "Terms & Conditions," 15 Sep. 2019 And since software is not sold but licensed, the firm has even argued that, in some circumstances, a tractor-buyer may not be buying a product at all, instead receiving only a licence to operate it. The Economist, "How the world will change as computers spread into everyday objects," 12 Sep. 2019 The veteran analyst earned high praise from viewers for his consistent passion and honesty during broadcasts, regardless of the circumstance. Wells Dusenbury, sun-sentinel.com, "Fan favorite Tommy Hutton returns to Marlins TV booth," 8 Sep. 2019 The difference between the sisters was not one of circumstance but of essence. Roxana Robinson, The New Yorker, "The Rivalry Between Georgia O’Keeffe and Her Sister Ida," 4 Sep. 2019 The movie’s opening is a catalog of the types of things that, in the best circumstances, can keep people bonded for life. Stephanie Zacharek, Time, "Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story Understands That No One Outside a Marriage Can Know the Truth of It," 29 Aug. 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
How to pronounce circumstance (audio)

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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