con·​tin·​gen·​cy | \ kən-ˈtin-jən(t)-sē How to pronounce contingency (audio) \
plural contingencies

Definition of contingency

1 : a contingent event or condition: such as
a : an event (such as an emergency) that may but is not certain to occur trying to provide for every contingency
b : something liable to happen as an adjunct to or result of something else the contingencies of war
2 : the quality or state of being contingent

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Choose the Right Synonym for contingency

juncture, exigency, emergency, contingency, pinch, strait (or straits) crisis mean a critical or crucial time or state of affairs. juncture stresses the significant concurrence or convergence of events. an important juncture in our country's history exigency stresses the pressure of restrictions or urgency of demands created by a special situation. provide for exigencies emergency applies to a sudden unforeseen situation requiring prompt action to avoid disaster. the presence of mind needed to deal with emergencies contingency implies an emergency or exigency that is regarded as possible but uncertain of occurrence. contingency plans pinch implies urgency or pressure for action to a less intense degree than exigency or emergency. come through in a pinch strait, now commonly straits, applies to a troublesome situation from which escape is extremely difficult. in dire straits crisis applies to a juncture whose outcome will make a decisive difference. a crisis of confidence

Examples of contingency in a Sentence

Nothing was overlooked. There was a fallback position, a fail-safe provision, for any contingency. — Gary Wills, New York Times Review of Books, 1 Apr. 2001 It is difficult to distinguish all the legitimate and illegitimate kinds and uses of information. Writing laws to regulate all contingencies is like trying to capture broth in a colander. — George F. Will, Newsweek, 2 Mar. 1987 Was it merely the expression of her displeasure at Miss Bart's neglect, or had disquieting rumours reached her? The latter contingency seemed improbable, yet Lily was not without a sense of uneasiness. — Edith Wharton, The House of Mirth, 1905 In making our business plans, we tried to prepare for any contingency that might hurt sales. agencies trying to provide for every contingency in a national emergency
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Recent Examples on the Web The New England Patriots are adding a contingency plan in the backfield. Michael Middlehurst-schwartz, USA TODAY, "Lamar Miller agrees to one-year contract with New England Patriots," 11 Aug. 2020 Hogs for the Cause is planning to hold its next festival in March 2021, with contingency plans for whatever phase of reopening the community is under at the time. Ian Mcnulty | Staff Writer,, "Hogs for the Cause starts big project in Baton Rouge, national push for DIY events," 11 Aug. 2020 More Ad-buying giant GroupM, for instance, was already advising its client teams to ready contingency plans, said Kieley Taylor, global vice president of social of the company, part of WPP PLC. Sahil Patel, WSJ, "Life Without TikTok? U.S. Marketers Contemplate Their Options," 8 Aug. 2020 World Athletics is making contingency plans should coronavirus again disrupt the international competition schedule next year. oregonlive, "Pete Julian’s world-class training group will spend August in Europe: Oregon track & field rundown," 2 Aug. 2020 Gimenez urged locals to have a contingency plan in case the storm is more intense than expected, CBS 4 reported. Nick Givas, Fox News, "Miami-Dade mayor tells residents to prepare for Hurricane Isaias, closes coronavirus testing sites," 1 Aug. 2020 Breed’s budget office is in the early stages of drawing up contingency plans if these assumed revenue sources don’t materialize. Dominic Fracassa,, "SF Mayor Breed unveils balanced — but fragile — city budget hammered by coronavirus," 31 July 2020 Twice a week, Diana Doyle and her staff at Arapahoe Community College meet over video conferences to discuss the outlook of the coronavirus pandemic and map out contingency plans for their campuses. Chalkbeat Colorado, The Denver Post, "For fall semester, Colorado’s colleges map out plans — and backup plans," 27 July 2020 Police in Chandler have a contingency plan in case of a protest, spokesperson Sgt. Chelsea Hofmann, azcentral, "Live updates: Phoenix gears up for 5th evening of protests, 100+ outside jail," 1 June 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'contingency.' 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 contingency

1561, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for contingency

conting(ence) + -ency

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Time Traveler for contingency

Time Traveler

The first known use of contingency was in 1561

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Statistics for contingency

Last Updated

14 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

“Contingency.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for contingency


How to pronounce contingency (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of contingency

: something (such as an emergency) that might happen


con·​tin·​gen·​cy | \ kən-ˈtin-jən-sē How to pronounce contingency (audio) \
plural contingencies

Legal Definition of contingency

1 : the quality or state of being contingent
2 : a contingent event or condition: as
a : an event that may but is not certain to occur a contingency that made performance under the contract impossible
b : something likely to come about as an adjunct to or result of something else specifically : contingency fee at fee 2 whether a case is on a contingency or billed at an hourly rate — D. R. Frederico

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