in·​stance | \ ˈin(t)-stən(t)s How to pronounce instance (audio) \

Definition of instance

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a step, stage, or situation viewed as part of a process or series of events prefers, in this instance, to remain anonymousThe Times Literary Supplement (London)
2 : the institution and prosecution of a lawsuit : suit
3a : an individual illustrative of a category or brought forward in support or disproof of a generalization
b archaic : exception
c obsolete : token, sign
4a : instigation, request am writing to you at the instance of my client
b archaic : urgent or earnest solicitation
c obsolete : an impelling cause or motive
for instance \ fə-​ˈrin(t)-​stən(t)s How to pronounce instance (audio) , ˈfrin(t)-​ \
: as an instance or example older people, like my grandmother, for instance


instanced; instancing

Definition of instance (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to illustrate or demonstrate by an instance
2 : to mention as a case or example : cite

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Choose the Right Synonym for instance


instance, case, illustration, example, sample, specimen mean something that exhibits distinguishing characteristics in its category. instance applies to any individual person, act, or thing that may be offered to illustrate or explain. an instance of history repeating itself case is used to direct attention to a real or assumed occurrence or situation that is to be considered, studied, or dealt with. a case of mistaken identity illustration applies to an instance offered as a means of clarifying or illuminating a general statement. a telling illustration of Murphy's Law example applies to a typical, representative, or illustrative instance or case. a typical example of bureaucratic waste sample implies a part or unit taken at random from a larger whole and so presumed to be typical of its qualities. show us a sample of your work specimen applies to any example or sample whether representative or merely existent and available. one of the finest specimens of the jeweler's art

Examples of instance in a Sentence

Noun an instance of great courage These delays are just another instance of bureaucratic inefficiency. In most instances the disease can be controlled by medication. They have decided not to oppose the decision in this instance. Verb instanced one particular incident as an illustration of their penchant for practical jokes instanced the latest astronomical research in her presentation on measuring star magnitude
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun For instance, Ercot shut off power to five facilities in Loving County, a rural part of West Texas where there are only 169 permanent residents. Russell Gold, WSJ, "As Texas Went Dark, the State Paid Natural-Gas Companies to Go Offline," 7 May 2021 For instance, many of the long-haulers have fatigue—like, extreme fatigue. The Atlantic, "Podcast: Long COVID Questions Answered," 7 May 2021 For instance, Amazon is dipping its toes in the financial services industry, creating new offerings around small-and-medium-enterprise payments and loans. Georgie Stokol, Fortune, "At these companies, A.I. is already driving revenue growth," 7 May 2021 For instance, the Arctic regions are warming at three times the average global rate due partly to rapid changes in ice cover and the impact of local feedback. Jeff Berardelli, CBS News, "NOAA's "new normal" climate report is anything but normal," 6 May 2021 For instance, Bharat Biotech, a company based in Hyderabad, is making a vaccine called Covaxin developed with government help. Washington Post, "‘Pivotal in our fight’: World reacts with hope over U.S. move to waive vaccine patent protections," 6 May 2021 For instance, Off Color Brewing, which has both a production brewery and a separate taproom with a small brewery, sold only slightly more beer last year than Hop Butcher. Josh Noel,, "Half Acre to sell Lincoln Avenue brewery to upstart Hop Butcher for the World, which gets its first home after years of quiet growth," 6 May 2021 For instance, Burns prolonged meetings to get agreement by attrition. Andrew Stuttaford, National Review, "Inflation, Interest Rates, and Janet Yellen," 6 May 2021 For instance, revenue is up 12.3% in the last fiscal year and almost 35% in the last three, jumping from $40 billion to nearly $48.2 billion. - Investing Reimagined, Forbes, "Nike And Facebook Among The Top 5 Trending Stocks For May," 6 May 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'instance.' 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 instance


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 4b


1601, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for instance

Time Traveler

The first known use of instance was in the 14th century

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Statistics for instance

Last Updated

10 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Instance.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for instance



English Language Learners Definition of instance

: an example of a particular type of action or situation : an occasion of something happening


in·​stance | \ ˈin-stəns How to pronounce instance (audio) \

Kids Definition of instance

1 : a particular occurrence of something : example an instance of true bravery
2 : a certain point or situation in a process or series of events In most instances, the medicine helps.


in·​stance | \ ˈin-stəns How to pronounce instance (audio) \

Legal Definition of instance

: the institution or prosecution of a lawsuit a court of first instance

History and Etymology for instance

French, from Late Latin instantia, from Latin, the fact of being present or impending, vehemence in speech, urgency, from instant-, instans insistent, pressing, from present participle of instare to be pressing, stand upon

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