in·​cum·​ben·​cy | \in-ˈkəm-bən(t)-sē \
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

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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
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Recent Examples on the Web

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 Saturday's outcome gives Cloud the advantage of incumbency in that contest. Sean Sullivan,, "Republican wins Texas special election to succeed disgraced GOP congressman," 30 June 2018 Some of Breed’s supporters saw her removal as a coup orchestrated by members of the board’s progressive faction, many of whom were Leno and Kim supporters who blanched at the prospect of allowing Breed to benefit from the power of the incumbency. Dominic Fracassa, San Francisco Chronicle, "Breed takes lead over Leno, Kim in earliest returns for SF mayor’s race," 5 June 2018 The strong Democratic recruitment, in effect, tends to cut against the G.O.P.’s incumbency advantage. New York Times, "What to Keep in Mind When Thinking About the Midterms," 26 Apr. 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.

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First Known Use of incumbency

circa 1608, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Last Updated

27 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for incumbency

The first known use of incumbency was circa 1608

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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

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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

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