contingency

noun
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

Newsletter Sign-up A Bank of England survey of more than 200 firms carried out between mid-December and late January found that half had implemented their no-transition contingency plans. Paul Hannon, WSJ, "U.K. Posts Slowest Growth in Six Years Amid Brexit Worries," 11 Feb. 2019 As Britain's scheduled exit date from the EU—Friday, March 29—draws closer, contingency plans are being put in place for a no-deal Brexit, including what should happen to the royal family in the event of civil unrest in London. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "There's a Secret Plan in Place to Evacuate Queen Elizabeth in the Event of Brexit Riots," 4 Feb. 2019 Arizona’s plan has broad support but hasn’t been approved by the Legislature, a factor that has made the negotiations on the drought contingency plan more complex. Felicia Fonseca, The Seattle Times, "6 states backed Colorado River plan; Arizona faces deadline," 30 Jan. 2019 At the same time, the White House is continuing to work on contingency plans to give Trump a backup in case the joint-session plans fall through. Jill Colvin, The Seattle Times, "Trump wants to deliver State of Union next week as planned," 23 Jan. 2019 About 380,000 employees were slated to be placed on unpaid leave, according to the contingency plans posted by affected federal agencies before the Dec. 22 shutdown. Eric Morath, WSJ, "Government Shutdown Could End 99-Month Job Growth Streak," 11 Jan. 2019 In an email last week, a National Park Service spokesman said the agency would follow a contingency plan of closing areas if issues arise such as garbage buildup. Jim Carlton, WSJ, "Shutdown Means Fewer Visitors to National Parks, and Small Businesses Suffer," 31 Dec. 2018 Active duty members of the military are exempt from shutdown furloughs, according to a contingency plan for the Department of Homeland Security. Li Zhou, Vox, "What’s open — and closed — during a partial government shutdown," 21 Dec. 2018 Sales contract contingencies are another key factor in your transaction. Kenneth R. Harney, chicagotribune.com, "Pricing, contracts, closing: Real estate survey offers buyers, sellers crucial insights," 30 Jan. 2018

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

see contingent entry 1

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Last Updated

14 Feb 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for contingency

The first known use of contingency was in 1561

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More Definitions for contingency

contingency

noun

English Language Learners Definition of contingency

: something (such as an emergency) that might happen

contingency

noun
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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