Definition of circumstance
1 a : 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 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 (as a crime) <the circumstance of the missing weapon told against him> <the circumstances suggest murder>
2 a : 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 plural : situation with regard to wealth <he was in easy circumstances> <rose from difficult circumstances>
3 : attendant formalities and ceremonial <pride, pomp, and circumstance of glorious war — Shakespeare>
4 : an event that constitutes a detail (as of a narrative or course of events) <considering each circumstance in turn>
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.
Origin and Etymology of 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
First Known Use: 13th century
Synonym Discussion of circumstance
CIRCUMSTANCE Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of circumstance for English Language Learners
: 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 Defined for Kids
Definition of circumstance for Students
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>
Legal Definition of circumstance
1a : a condition, fact, or event accompanying, conditioning, or determining another <must state with particularity the circumstances constituting fraud or mistake — Federal 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 statement — State v. Lopez, 764 P.2d 1111 (1988)>
2 pl : situation with regard to wealth <the circumstances of the parties before the divorce>
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