in·​cum·​ben·​cy | \ in-ˈkəm-bən(t)-sē How to pronounce incumbency (audio) \
plural incumbencies

Definition of incumbency

1 : something that is incumbent : duty
2 : the quality or state of being incumbent
3 : the sphere of action or period of office of an incumbent

Keep scrolling for more

Examples of incumbency in a Sentence

Hundreds of new jobs were created during her incumbency. the advantages of incumbency during an election a politician seeking to keep his incumbency
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

Heading into the campaign, Mr. Trump enjoys some of the natural advantages of incumbency, while also seeing slippage in the coalition that elected him in 2016, strategists said. Julie Bykowicz, WSJ, "Trump Heads to Border for First Rally of Year," 11 Feb. 2019 Wagner has the advantage of incumbency, better name recognition, and a district that has been solidly Republican for more than a quarter of a century. Jim Salter, The Seattle Times, "Health-themed campaign targets Missouri GOP congresswoman," 26 Oct. 2018 Chrissy Houlahan had no opposition in a Chester County district recently redrawn to no longer favor incumbency for Republican Ryan Costello. Maria Panaritis,, "'The women have arrived' with Pa. congressional primary wins, as the old boys get a wake-up call | Maria Panaritis," 16 May 2018 Past presidents looking to stave off midterm election losses have long capitalized on the tools of incumbency. Michael C. Bender, WSJ, "Trump Rolls Out New Pledges to Boost GOP Electoral Odds," 27 Oct. 2018 In a year when incumbency is in bad odor, Republicans will need lots of their folks to hold their noses and vote. Chris Stirewalt, Fox News, "The GOP's Pollyanna problem," 20 Aug. 2018 Capuano, seizing the power of incumbency, has moved quickly to lock up the support of influential black political leaders such as Lewis and former governor Deval Patrick as well as local powerbrokers, including Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh. Michael Levenson,, "Capuano-Pressley matchup reflects divisions in Democratic Party," 29 May 2018 Without the advantage of incumbency, election analysts give Republicans little chance of holding the seat. Jonathan Tamari,, "Rep. Ryan Costello retirement adds to opportunities for Democrats across Philadelphia region," 26 Mar. 2018 At the same time, Thies said that Bowser, for all her vulnerabilities, commands the advantages of incumbency, including nearly $2 million in campaign funds. Paul Schwartzman, Washington Post, "With mounting scandals in D.C., where are the challengers to the mayor?," 4 Mar. 2018

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

See More

First Known Use of incumbency

circa 1608, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about incumbency

Statistics for incumbency

Last Updated

20 Feb 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for incumbency

The first known use of incumbency was circa 1608

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for incumbency



English Language Learners Definition of incumbency

: the time during which a person holds a particular office or position
: the state of holding a particular office or position

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on incumbency

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for incumbency

Spanish Central: Translation of incumbency

Nglish: Translation of incumbency for Spanish Speakers

Comments on incumbency

What made you want to look up incumbency? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


marked by a state of overwhelming emotion

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Latin Quiz

  • roman forum
  • Which of the following months comes from a Latin word for “ten”?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!