contingency

noun

con·​tin·​gen·​cy kən-ˈtin-jən(t)-sē How to pronounce contingency (audio)
plural contingencies
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
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
Recent Examples on the Web On Day Seven, the homebuyers still needed to remove their contingency regarding the homeowner association documents. Pat Kapowich, The Mercury News, 6 Apr. 2024 Webb said the project length is set for one year, with some contingency for weather. Lynn Kutter, arkansasonline.com, 16 Mar. 2024 See all Example Sentences for contingency 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'contingency.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

conting(ence) + -ency

First Known Use

1561, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of contingency was in 1561

Dictionary Entries Near contingency

Cite this Entry

“Contingency.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/contingency. Accessed 22 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

contingency

noun
con·​tin·​gen·​cy kən-ˈtin-jən-sē How to pronounce contingency (audio)
plural contingencies
: something (as an emergency) that might or might not happen or that might happen if something else occurs
prepared for every contingency

Legal Definition

contingency

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

More from Merriam-Webster on contingency

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