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, Palantir’s network analysis — its ability to identify a person’s friends, relatives, colleagues and other relations — was pulling people into the L.A.P.D.’s surveillance system who otherwise wouldn’t have been. Michael Steinberger, New York Times, "Does Palantir See Too Much?," 21 Oct. 2020 For instance, Google is the default search engine on Chrome, and Chrome is the default browser on Android. Katherine Riley, WSJ, "The Businesses Where Google Is Biggest (And the Ones Where It Isn’t)," 21 Oct. 2020 For instance, Google has paid billions of dollars to other companies for the privilege of being the default search engine on various mobile devices and web browsers. The Editors, National Review, "The Feds’ Antitrust Case against Google Is Weak," 21 Oct. 2020 For instance, combined with the joint fundraising operations the Trump campaign set up in conjunction with the Republican National Committee, the president began the final month of the campaign with $251.4 million in cash on hand. David M. Drucker, Washington Examiner, "Biden war chest flush with cash as Trump campaign runs on fumes," 21 Oct. 2020 For instance, two dozen Wyncode graduates have been employed with Restaurant Brands International, which owns Burger King, and Watsco, a large air-conditioning distributor. Jennifer Miller, Washington Post, "The Risks and Rewards of the Covid Career Makeover," 21 Oct. 2020 For instance, about 15,000 Summit County ballots were mailed Monday and voters should receive them this week, according to Board of Elections Director Lance Reed. Robin Goist, cleveland, "Nine Ohio counties switch to printing absentee ballots in-house due to delays with Cleveland-based company," 20 Oct. 2020 For instance, students will have 30 days – half the time currently allotted – to leave the country after completing their academic program. David L. Di Maria, The Conversation, "Proposed student visa policy could hinder US competitiveness," 20 Oct. 2020 For instance, among the dozen counties comprising northwestern Minnesota, about 40 percent of voters cast absentee ballots. Jeff Hargarten, Star Tribune, "Once regional, early voting has swept across Minnesota," 20 Oct. 2020

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

24 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Instance.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Oct. 2020.

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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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