emergency

noun, often attributive
emer·​gen·​cy | \i-ˈmər-jən(t)-sē \
plural emergencies

Definition of emergency 

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

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Choose the Right Synonym for 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

Examples of emergency in a Sentence

Her quick thinking in an emergency saved the baby's life. an alert, quick-thinking girl who is good to have around in an emergency

Recent Examples on the Web

Wandera’s all-volunteer organization is now trying to help protect those who might be targeted and to connect those who’ve gone underground or relocated with emergency resources Wandera said his group will continue to operate. Jen Kirby, Vox, "Tanzania’s anti-gay crackdown is sending people into hiding," 9 Nov. 2018 While Kate is at the vet with their dog, Audio, for an emergency appointment, Toby forces himself to get up and get dressed. Candice Frederick, Harper's BAZAAR, "This Is Us Episode Recaps," 31 Oct. 2018 No time to pay attention to a cold or a cramp or anything but the most extreme emergency. Marie Claire, "With One Week Until Election Day, the Boxers Share Advice and Insight," 30 Oct. 2018 Due to a placental abruption, which caused severe blood loss to both Countess Sophie and Lady Louise, she was delivered by the Royal Surgeon and Gynecologist Marcus Setchell via emergency Caesarean section. Chanel Vargas, Town & Country, "Who Is the Queen's Youngest Granddaughter, Lady Louise Windsor," 12 Oct. 2018 If electric cars and clean energy aren’t enough to prevent rising oceans, then there’s money to be made in seawalls, indoor agriculture and emergency housing. Recode Staff, Recode, "Recode Daily: Why Google is shutting down Google+, Facebook’s tone-deaf camera device," 9 Oct. 2018 Investigators believe the fire was fed by tanks of diesel fuel that many tenants used to run emergency generators. Popular Mechanics Editors, Popular Mechanics, "Debunking the 9/11 Myths: Special Report - The World Trade Center," 10 Sep. 2018 That flooding led to the failure of the plant’s main power source, forcing workers to shut off emergency generators. Erin Ailworth, WSJ, "Texas Grand Jury Indicts Chemical Company for Harvey Explosion," 3 Aug. 2018 The seawater surged through vents and ducts, swamping basements, knocking out electricity and mechanical equipment, including all the pumps and emergency generators that kept the 12,000 or so fish and marine mammals alive. Michael Kimmelman, New York Times, "Coney Island’s Newest Wonder: Sharkitecture!," 28 June 2018

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.

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First Known Use of emergency

circa 1631, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for emergency

Last Updated

13 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for emergency

The first known use of emergency was circa 1631

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More Definitions for emergency

emergency

noun

English Language Learners Definition of emergency

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

emergency

noun
emer·​gen·​cy | \i-ˈmər-jən-sē \
plural emergencies

Kids Definition of emergency

: an unexpected situation that requires immediate action a medical emergency

emergency

noun
emer·​gen·​cy | \i-ˈmər-jən-sē \
plural emergencies

Medical Definition of emergency 

: 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

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emergency

noun
emer·​gen·​cy
plural emergencies

Legal Definition of emergency 

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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Comments on emergency

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