Definition of incidence
- a high incidence of crime
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an increased incidence of diabetes
a high incidence of criminal behavior
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'incidence.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
The words incident, incidence, and instance may seem similar (and, in fact, incident and incidence are closely related), but they are not used identically. In current use, incidence usually means "rate of occurrence" and is often qualified in some way ("a high incidence of diabetes"). Incident usually refers to a particular event, often something unusual or unpleasant ("many such incidents go unreported"). Instance suggests a particular occurrence that is offered as an example ("another instance of bureaucratic bumbling"); it can also be synonymous with case ("many instances in which the wrong form was submitted"). The plural incidences sometimes occurs in such contexts as "several recent incidences of crime," but this use is often criticized as incorrect.
: the number of times something happens or develops : the rate at which something occurs
: the angle at which a ray (such as a ray of light) hits a surface
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