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


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 In that instance, Bartman, a Cubs fan, reached for and deflected a foul ball at Wrigley Field, disrupting a potential catch by Cubs outfielder Moises Alou. Los Angeles Times, "Column: How Saints fans rallied after losing to Rams in NFC title game," 14 Sep. 2019 The captains say that in one instance, Carlton and the city moved a black male captain from a shift and days where three other black captains were scheduled to work. Eric Heisig,, "Black Cleveland EMS captains say commissioner, city discriminates when scheduling shifts," 12 Sep. 2019 In one instance, a victim with diabetes allegedly had his or her medical needs denied, and another was allegedly grabbed by the wrists so as to be prevented from leaving. Rachel Desantis,, "12 Church Leaders Arrested for Allegedly Forcing Homeless People into Work, Holding Them Captive," 11 Sep. 2019 In one instance, the attorneys who intend to represent the victims in the New Jersey cases, said that one scoutmaster, convicted of molesting boys in the 1960s was allowed to repeatedly return as a volunteer leading scout groups. Nicholas Rondinone,, "Three Connecticut men plan to use New Jersey law to sue Boy Scouts of America for decades-old sexual abuse," 30 Aug. 2019 More than half of black and Hispanic households did not have enough savings to sustain them in that instance when surveyed in 2013, according to the study. Joshua Fechter,, "Report: Poverty in San Antonio disproportionately hits Hispanic, black residents," 30 July 2019 In that instance, the overflow did not affect the city's fresh water supply, according to a Bay City spokesperson. Peter Dawson, Houston Chronicle, "Raw sewage overflowing from Baytown manholes after recent storms.. .again," 26 June 2019 Apple had been a tenant in those office buildings at the corner of Stevens Creek Boulevard and Torre Avenue and chose to become an owner rather than a renter in that instance. George Avalos, The Mercury News, "Seagate sells big Cupertino office building for more than $100 million," 10 Sep. 2019 In that instance, Long said, coaches have to find another way to teach their players to execute the plays. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Aztecs’ Long welcomes fans to have their say, but stands behind his offensive coordinator," 3 Sep. 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.

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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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Statistics for instance

Last Updated

25 Oct 2019

Time Traveler for instance

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

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More Definitions for instance


How to pronounce instance (audio)

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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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).


a calculated move

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