oc·​ca·​sion | \ ə-ˈkā-zhən How to pronounce occasion (audio) \

Definition of occasion

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a favorable opportunity or circumstance did not have occasion to talk with them
2a : a state of affairs that provides a ground or reason The occasion of the discord was their mutual intolerance.
b : an occurrence or condition that brings something about especially : the immediate inciting circumstance as distinguished from the fundamental cause His insulting remark was the occasion of a bitter quarrel.
3a : happening, incident Everybody has been terribly kind since my recent sad occasion.— Thomas Kelly
b : a time at which something happens : instance on the occasion of his daughter's wedding
4a : a need arising from a particular circumstance knowledge for which he will never have any occasion— C. H. Grandgent
b archaic : a personal want or need usually used in plural
5 occasions plural : affairs, business minded his own occasions and was content for other folk to mind theirs— S. H. Adams
6 : a special event or ceremony : celebration birthdays, anniversaries, and other special occasions
on occasion
: from time to time He lives in the country, though he visits the city on occasion.


oc·​ca·​sion | \ ə-ˈkā-zhən How to pronounce occasion (audio) \
occasioned; occasioning\ ə-​ˈkāzh-​niŋ How to pronounce occasion (audio) , -​ˈkā-​zhə-​ \

Definition of occasion (Entry 2 of 2)

Examples of occasion in a Sentence

Noun When versatility is fashion's best justification, the idea of a beautiful lace blouse or dress that can step up to a special occasion and then look just as good under a man-tailored jacket or a fine-gauge long-line cardigan the next day is persuasive. — S. Mower, Vogue, September 2008 On several occasions, people have observed dark, kilometer-wide bands on the ocean surface as tsunamis approached or passed by … — S. Perkins, Science News, 21 Feb. 2004 Not so long ago, Rolling Stone's David Fricke asked the late Kurt Cobain whom he admired among "established" rock bands. Cobain unhesitatingly named R.E.M., using the occasion to send the band members a virtual mash note for remaining true to their muse and to themselves and for refusing to be swayed by the shifting winds of fashion and commerciality. — Robert Palmer, Rolling Stone, 6 Oct. 1994 To publish a definitive collection of short stories in one's late 60s seems to me, as an American writer, a traditional and a dignified occasion, eclipsed in no way by the fact that a great many of the stories in my current collection were written in my underwear. — John Cheever, in Ann Charters, The Story and Its Writer, 1987 birthdays, anniversaries, and other special occasions They marked the occasion with their families. She wrote a song especially for the occasion. Roses are the perfect flower for any occasion. On the occasion of their 25th wedding anniversary, they took a vacation to Paris. We had occasion to watch her perform last summer. The boys never had occasion to meet each other. She never found an occasion to suggest her ideas. He took the occasion to make an announcement. Verb It was that desire that occasioned a trip to Berlin this spring: a desire to wander through the city's arty demimonde and to eat beside its residents … — Sam Sifton, New York Times, 22 June 2008 "I made bow ties," Sally says very assuredly, after the long silence occasioned by my unwanted kiss, during which we both realized we are not about to head upstairs for any fun. — Richard Ford, Independence Day, 1996 the announcement concerning the change in scheduling occasioned much confusion See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The core three provided their real response Friday night, all rising to the occasion to keep the sun from setting on their season, combining for 89 of the 108 points. Globe Staff, BostonGlobe.com, 14 May 2022 The 6-foot-9-inch Johnson rose to the occasion and stepped into the center position for Game 6. Bryan Alexander, USA TODAY, 9 May 2022 Outside the venue, lively Cinco de Mayo action up and down Vernor added an extra festive touch to the occasion, as the music of the Five got a 5/5 workout in southwest Detroit. Brian Mccollum, Detroit Free Press, 6 May 2022 But in times of national emergency, true leaders rise to the occasion. Daniel Twining, WSJ, 6 May 2022 Well, Skyward was one of those drone companies that rose to the occasion, pivoted successfully early on into enterprise software, and seemingly found success as an early venture for Verizon. Harrison Wolf, Forbes, 6 May 2022 Green spoke to the media for the first time since his ejection on Monday, and praised his teammates for rising to the occasion in his absence. C.j. Holmes, San Francisco Chronicle, 2 May 2022 By my count, just two artists in the national pavilions have fully risen to the occasion. Jason Farago, New York Times, 21 Apr. 2022 All of these efforts are directed at tackling the current pandemic as a way to prepare themselves for when—and not if—the next one will strike, and rich countries will once again fail to rise to the occasion. Annalisa Merelli, Quartz, 19 Apr. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The book is unlikely to occasion surprise for readers of Murray’s other books, including The Madness ... Peter Wood, National Review, 12 May 2022 Whatever Greene or Gosar is saying or doing at the moment doesn't occasion much chatter in their districts. Chris Cillizza, CNN, 31 Mar. 2022 Feldman’s thought-provoking case for a stark rupture in Union war aims will surely occasion lively debate. Washington Post, 12 Nov. 2021 Elliot shared my feeling that human composting’s greater promise is its potential to occasion a paradigm shift in our relationship to all life. Lisa Wells, Harper's Magazine, 28 Sep. 2021 The existence of Ross’s book and others like it — and the brutal events that occasion them — suggest the attainment of that goal is still more than 20 years away. BostonGlobe.com, 1 July 2021 The next step is a Senate floor vote, which may occasion Democrats’ first official challenge to the Senate filibuster. Patrick Gleason, Forbes, 13 May 2021 The ex-royal couple have enough wit to understand that their own hardships don’t occasion many tears outside their lachrymose celebrity friends. Gerard Baker, WSJ, 8 Mar. 2021 Most Democratic candidates have negotiated the problem reasonably well, although extreme anti-Israel outliers from safe districts, such as Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, can occasion some awkwardness for their congressional colleagues. Barton Swaim, WSJ, 16 Dec. 2020 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'occasion.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of occasion


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


15th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for occasion


Middle English occasioun "opportunity, inducement, grounds or justification, occurrence," borrowed from Anglo-French & Medieval Latin; Anglo-French occasion, borrowed from Medieval Latin occāsiōn-, occāsiō "opportunity, circumstance, cause, pretext," going back to Latin, "convenient circumstances, opportunity," from oc-cad-, base of occidere "to be struck down, die, sink below the horizon" + -tiōn- -tiō, suffix of verbal action — more at occident

Note: Though Latin occāsiō is formally a derivative of occidere, it does not reflect the meaning of that verb; for the sense cf. other derivatives of cadere "to fall," as accidere "to happen" (see accident) and cāsus "occurrence, chance" (see case entry 1). The verbal noun corresponding semantically to occidere is occāsus "sinking (of the sun), downfall, decline."


Middle English occasionen, borrowed from Medieval Latin occāsiōnāre, derivative of occāsiōn-, occāsiō occasion entry 1

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

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Last Updated

17 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Occasion.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/occasion. Accessed 21 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for occasion


oc·​ca·​sion | \ ə-ˈkā-zhən How to pronounce occasion (audio) \

Kids Definition of occasion

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a special event The banquet was an elegant occasion.
2 : the time of an event This has happened on more than one occasion.
3 : a suitable opportunity : a good chance Take the first occasion to write.


occasioned; occasioning

Kids Definition of occasion (Entry 2 of 2)

: to bring about … I found the point of the rocks which occasioned this disaster …— Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe

More from Merriam-Webster on occasion

Nglish: Translation of occasion for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of occasion for Arabic Speakers


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