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 As acting attorney general, Rosen could appoint a special counsel to investigate Hunter Biden before the Jan. 20 inauguration, although some legal experts have questioned whether an appointment under that circumstance would be legal. Chris Strohm, Bloomberg.com, "Barr’s Departure Leaves Rosen Running Trump’s Justice Department," 15 Dec. 2020 That circumstance will not afflict Biden, though Trump continues to talk about Hillary Clinton's time in office and has recently fixated on emails allegedly contained in a laptop once owned by Biden's son Hunter. Michael Scherer And Scott Clement Washington Post, Star Tribune, "For Democrats, Biden's lead fuels uncomfortable sense of deja vu," 18 Oct. 2020 Sadly, the Weeknd’s performance wasn’t as memorable as the pomp and circumstance might suggest. Troy L. Smith, cleveland, "Fireworks, jockstraps can’t save The Weeknd’s Super Bowl halftime show," 7 Feb. 2021 Andy Reid, whose willingness to gamble and always play to win should be lauded regardless of circumstance, has designed a nearly unstoppable attack — when Mahomes is behind center. Barry Wilner, Star Tribune, "Still playing: Bills, Bucs risen from Super Bowl droughts," 18 Jan. 2021 In no other health circumstance would such brutality toward the afflicted be tolerated. Ellen Carmichael, National Review, "Journalists’ Behavior over Luke Letlow’s Passing Is Abhorrent — and Telling," 30 Dec. 2020 All-Stars, Curry doesn’t have the physical gifts to dominate games regardless of circumstance. Connor Letourneau, SFChronicle.com, "Warriors look to get back to free-flowing ways vs. Bulls," 26 Dec. 2020 In an unprecedented year of circumstance, 2020 brought a record 12 named storms to the United States — with five striking Louisiana. CBS News, "Rebuild or retreat? The future of Louisiana's coastline in jeopardy," 22 Dec. 2020 While awash with pomp and circumstance, this inauguration looked very different. Donna Owens, Essence, "An Inauguration Day of ‘History and Hope’," 21 Jan. 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.

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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

27 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Circumstance.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/circumstance. Accessed 1 Mar. 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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