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

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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 Philip's funeral on Saturday will be a largely military circumstance, as befits the man. Guy Martin, Forbes, "How The Queen Decided That Her Family Would Mourn Prince Philip In Civilian Dress," 15 Apr. 2021 However, there's at least one circumstance that Robson would be willing to return for. Tamara Hardingham-gill, CNN, "The Welshman who mailed himself home from Australia in a box," 13 Apr. 2021 Drug addiction is a circumstance that most people view negatively. Marcia Crismond, sun-sentinel.com, "Removing the stigma of addiction could save lives | Opinion," 8 Apr. 2021 This was a new circumstance for Saban who never hired anyone in the middle of spring practice, a necessity when Jay Graham resigned after the first practice of the spring. Michael Casagrande | Mcasagrande@al.com, al, "Saban talks freshmen progress, role of new coach, WRs," 8 Apr. 2021 This is an unusual circumstance with an old post circulating widely again months later. Eric Litke, USA TODAY, "Fact check: USPS investigation disproved claim of backdated ballots in Wisconsin," 25 Feb. 2021 What will be awfully familiar Friday is the circumstance: another opportunity in the College Football Playoff, with the Tigers standing in the way of a chance to play for the ninth national title in school history and third since 2000. cleveland, "Can Ohio State football find an answer to Clemson’s pressure offense after its 2019 experience? Film Analysis," 30 Dec. 2020 But, of course, this was not an ordinary circumstance. New York Times, "As Premier League Gates Reopen, a Soothing Soundtrack Returns," 5 Dec. 2020 The unwarranted killing in 2017 of Bijan Ghaisar, an unarmed young accountant shot to death by two U.S. Park Police officers after a fender bender, was just such an extraordinary circumstance. Arkansas Online, "OPINION | EDITORIAL: A glimmer of justice in a killing by police," 17 Oct. 2020

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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Time Traveler for circumstance

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for circumstance

Last Updated

28 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Circumstance.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/circumstance. Accessed 8 May. 2021.

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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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