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

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

Some of them passed away in what appear to be similar circumstances. Steve Helling, PEOPLE.com, "Shark Tank Star Barbara Corcoran's Brother Dies of a Heart Attack in the Dominican Republic," 12 June 2019 Last summer the city council approved payouts to the 29 surviving sanitation strikers to make up for circumstances that shorted their retirement accounts. Wendi C. Thomas, National Geographic, "Where the Streets Have MLK's Name," 12 June 2019 The daytime caregiver had called Ellen earlier in the day with some disturbing news, and the kids now must tell Peggy about changes in circumstances. Kerry Reid, chicagotribune.com, "'Four Places' at Den Theatre: As their parents age, old secrets break their silences," 11 June 2019 Authorities assure the community there are no suspicious circumstances surrounding the incident and there is no risk to public safety. Molly Korzenowski, Twin Cities, "Man found dead in trunk; Eagan police say no foul play evident," 10 June 2019 Aware of the enormous risk of cholera in these circumstances, on 27 September 2017 the Bangladeshi government made an official request for 900,000 doses of cholera vaccine. Gaia Vince, Quartz, "How to survive in the world’s largest refugee camp," 8 June 2019 The company can petition for exemptions from new duties for specific circumstances, though there are no guarantees around whether the petitions would be granted. Sapna Maheshwari, New York Times, "How China Tariffs Could Make Your Sweaters and Pants Cost More," 5 June 2019 Analysts say the highest gas prices of the year may be behind us unless there are unforeseen economic, geopolitical, and/or weather-related circumstances. USA TODAY, "Fairy houses, feuding cousins, a fish app: News from around our 50 states," 3 June 2019 There are certain circumstances when tipping more than 20% is a good idea, says stylist and HAUS Salon owner Charlie Brackney. April Franzino, Good Housekeeping, "Exactly How Much You Should Tip Your Hairstylist," 22 May 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

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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