instance 1 of 2

as in example
one of a group or collection that shows what the whole is like this is just one instance of his repeated failure to do what he promised

Synonyms & Similar Words



2 of 2


as in to cite
to give as an example instanced one particular incident as an illustration of their penchant for practical jokes

Synonyms & Similar Words


Synonym Chooser

How is the word instance distinct from other similar nouns?

Some common synonyms of instance are case, example, illustration, sample, and specimen. While all these words 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

When could case be used to replace instance?

Although the words case and instance have much in common, 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

When might example be a better fit than instance?

The meanings of example and instance largely overlap; however, example applies to a typical, representative, or illustrative instance or case.

a typical example of bureaucratic waste

When can illustration be used instead of instance?

In some situations, the words illustration and instance are roughly equivalent. However, illustration applies to an instance offered as a means of clarifying or illuminating a general statement.

a telling illustration of Murphy's Law

When is it sensible to use sample instead of instance?

The words sample and instance can be used in similar contexts, but 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

Where would specimen be a reasonable alternative to instance?

While the synonyms specimen and instance are close in meaning, specimen applies to any example or sample whether representative or merely existent and available.

one of the finest specimens of the jeweler's art

Thesaurus Entries Near instance

Cite this Entry

“Instance.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Mar. 2024.

More from Merriam-Webster on instance

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