chance

1 of 2

noun

1
a
: something that happens unpredictably without discernible human intention or observable cause
Which cards you are dealt is simply a matter of chance.
b
: the assumed impersonal purposeless determiner of unaccountable happenings : luck
an outcome decided by chance
c
: the fortuitous or incalculable element in existence : contingency
… you surely have endured strange chancesAlfred Tennyson
2
: a situation favoring some purpose : opportunity
needed a chance to relax
3
: a fielding opportunity in baseball
4
a
: the possibility of a particular outcome in an uncertain situation
What chance has he of pulling through?
also : the degree of likelihood of such an outcome
a small chance of success
b
chances plural : the more likely indications
chances are he's already gone
5
a
: risk
not taking any chances
b
: a raffle ticket
chance adjective

chance

2 of 2

verb

chanced; chancing

intransitive verb

1
a
: to take place, come about, or turn out by chance : happen
it chanced to rain that day
b
: to have the good or bad luck
we chanced to meet
2
: to come or light by chance
they chanced upon a remote inn

transitive verb

1
: to leave the outcome of to chance
2
: to accept the hazard of : risk
knew the trip was dangerous but decided to chance it
Phrases
by chance
: in the haphazard course of events
they met by chance
chance one's arm
British : to take a risk

Examples of chance in a Sentence

Noun This is the chance of a lifetime! Everyone deserves a fair chance of winning the award. If you give me a chance, I know I can do a good job. We didn't have much chance to talk about it. There's a good chance that we'll finish on time. If you are free tonight, is there any chance you could join me for dinner? Which cards you're given is simply a matter of chance. Verb He couldn't chance playing with a broken toe. I don't think we should chance driving in this snowstorm.
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
Pay an additional $1 to add the Power Play for a chance to multiply all Powerball winnings except for the jackpot. Chris Sims, The Indianapolis Star, 14 July 2024 Rallying enthusiasm in Detroit and among its sizable Black population could prove decisive for Biden's chances of winning Michigan, which Biden reclaimed in 2020 after Trump won it four years prior by just over 10,000 votes. Zeke Miller, arkansasonline.com, 13 July 2024
Verb
In the past, Russian elites had little desire to chance nuclear conflict. Mikhail Zygar, Foreign Affairs, 28 June 2024 The stories of Chatfield saving lives through the fire service or helping to chance life circumstances for the better seem endless. Pamela McLoughlin, Hartford Courant, 17 June 2024 See all Example Sentences for chance 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'chance.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Noun

Middle English chaunce, chance "occurrence (especially unforeseen or providential), stroke of good or bad luck, luck, fall of the dice," borrowed from Anglo-French cheaunce, chaunce, chance, going back to Vulgar Latin *cadentia, noun derivative (formally feminine singular from neuter plural) of Latin cadent-, cadens, present participle of cadere "to fall, be cast (of dice, lots), turn out, come to pass," perhaps going back to an Indo-European verbal base *ḱad- or *ḱHd- "fall," whence also Sanskrit śaśāda "(s/he) fell off/out," śatsyati "(s/he) will fall off/out"

Verb

Middle English chancen, chaunsen, verbal derivative of chance, chaunce chance entry 1

First Known Use

Noun

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb

14th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of chance was in the 13th century

Dictionary Entries Near chance

Cite this Entry

“Chance.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/chance. Accessed 24 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition

chance

1 of 3 noun
1
: the uncertain course of events
they met by chance
2
: opportunity sense 1
had a chance to travel
3
: the possibility of loss or injury
took chances driving too fast
4
: the possibility or probability of something happening
there is a chance of rain
5
: a ticket in a raffle

chance

2 of 3 verb
chanced; chancing
1
: to take place by chance : happen
it chanced to rain that day
2
: to come unexpectedly
used with upon
chanced upon a good restaurant
3
: risk entry 2 sense 2
knew the trip was dangerous but decided to chance it

chance

3 of 3 adjective
: happening by chance
a chance meeting

More from Merriam-Webster on chance

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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