instance

noun
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 fə-ˈrin(t)-stən(t)s (audio) , ˈfrin(t)-​ \
: as an instance or example older people, like my grandmother, for instance

instance

verb
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

Keep scrolling for more

Choose the Right Synonym for instance

Noun

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
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

In one instance, a video published by the Southern Poverty Law Center with an interview debunking a Holocaust denier and an academic video from Cal State San Bernardino’s Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism also disappeared. Ellen Mcgirt, Fortune, "How CEOs Plan To Make Work Better: RaceAhead," 11 June 2019 The latter two types often cast a shadow of ambiguity over other instances. Ann Neumann, Harper's magazine, "Going to Extremes," 10 June 2019 Elsewhere in the same budget document, the DA’s office appeared to give a more accurate picture of maximum felony three caseloads in one instance. Keri Blakinger, Houston Chronicle, "Data raises questions about Harris County DA’s push for 100 more lawyers," 10 June 2019 In one instance, an employee listed a racial epithet as the customer name. SFChronicle.com, "Wells Fargo to pay $386 million; Russia cracks down on Tinder," 7 June 2019 In other instances, GEO Group openly disagreed with the conclusions of ICE’s independent inspectors. Justin Wingerter, The Denver Post, "ICE inspector general finds violations at Aurora facility," 6 June 2019 In other instances, the policy forced FOIA officers to wait until hearing from political employees before releasing records. Author: Jacob Holzman, Anchorage Daily News, "Interior held back FOIA’d documents after political screenings," 28 Mar. 2019 That said, the report also praised Wuerl for actively intervening to remove offending priests in other instances. Tara Isabella Burton, Vox, "Pope Francis to meet with top US cardinals over DC archbishop’s legacy of sex abuse allegations," 12 Sep. 2018 Just keep in mind that these sheets may be more expensive, and there have been instances where brands mislabel regular cotton sheets as Egyptian. Lexie Sachs, Good Housekeeping, "Does the Thread Count of Your Sheets Matter? Bedding Experts Reveal the Truth," 17 May 2019

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.

See More

First Known Use of instance

Noun

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

Verb

1601, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about instance

Statistics for instance

Last Updated

21 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for instance

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for instance

instance

noun

English Language Learners Definition of instance

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

instance

noun
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.

instance

noun
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

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on instance

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for instance

Spanish Central: Translation of instance

Nglish: Translation of instance for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of instance for Arabic Speakers

Comments on instance

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

WORD OF THE DAY

to take the place or position of

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words for Summer: A Quiz

  • a closeup of a sunflower
  • Which of the following words means “of or relating to summer”?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

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

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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