emergency

noun, often attributive emer·gen·cy \ i-ˈmər-jən(t)-sē \
Updated on: 16 Nov 2017

Definition of emergency

plural emergencies
1 : an unforeseen combination of circumstances or the resulting state that calls for immediate action
2 : an urgent need for assistance or relief
  • the mayor declared a state of emergency after the flood

Examples of emergency in a Sentence

  1. Her quick thinking in an emergency saved the baby's life.

  2. an alert, quick-thinking girl who is good to have around in an emergency

Recent Examples of emergency from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'emergency.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of emergency

circa 1631

Synonym Discussion of emergency

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

EMERGENCY Defined for English Language Learners

emergency

noun

Definition of emergency for English Language Learners

  • : an unexpected and usually dangerous situation that calls for immediate action


EMERGENCY Defined for Kids

emergency

noun emer·gen·cy \ i-ˈmər-jən-sē \

Definition of emergency for Students

plural emergencies
: an unexpected situation that requires immediate action
  • a medical emergency

Medical Dictionary

emergency

noun emer·gen·cy \ i-ˈmər-jən-sē \

medical Definition of emergency

plural emergencies
: an unforeseen combination of circumstances or the resulting state that calls for immediate action: as
a : a sudden bodily alteration (as a ruptured appendix or surgical shock) such as is likely to require immediate medical attention
b : a usually distressing event or condition that can often be anticipated or prepared for but seldom exactly foreseen

Law Dictionary

emergency

noun emer·gen·cy

legal Definition of emergency

plural emergencies
1 : an unforeseen combination of circumstances or the resulting state that calls for immediate action
2 : an urgent need for assistance or relief
  • a state of emergency


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