contingent

1 of 2

adjective

con·​tin·​gent kən-ˈtin-jənt How to pronounce contingent (audio)
1
: dependent on or conditioned by something else
Payment is contingent on fulfillment of certain conditions.
a plan contingent on the weather
2
: likely but not certain to happen : possible
3
: not logically necessary
especially : empirical
4
a
: happening by chance or unforeseen causes
b
: subject to chance or unseen effects : unpredictable
c
: intended for use in circumstances not completely foreseen
contingent funds
5
: not necessitated : determined by free choice
contingently adverb

contingent

2 of 2

noun

1
: a representative group : delegation, detachment
a diplomatic contingent
2
: something contingent (see contingent entry 1) : contingency
Choose the Right Synonym for contingent

accidental, fortuitous, casual, contingent mean not amenable to planning or prediction.

accidental stresses chance.

any resemblance to actual persons is entirely accidental

fortuitous so strongly suggests chance that it often connotes entire absence of cause.

a series of fortuitous events

casual stresses lack of real or apparent premeditation or intent.

a casual encounter with a stranger

contingent suggests possibility of happening but stresses uncertainty and dependence on other future events for existence or occurrence.

the contingent effects of the proposed law

Example Sentences

Adjective The isolation and co-optation of the capitalist classes in Germany meant that liberty as an ideal had no contingent link with capitalism, as had happened in Western Europe. Orlando Patterson, New Republic, 8 Nov. 1999 He knows that the throngs cheering for him today will be cheering for someone else tomorrow, that enthusiasm is fickle, that real support for someone like him always has something completely contingent about it. Andrew Sullivan, New Republic, 8 July 1996 Clearly the President was chastened by the sorrow and resentment of the people to whom he spoke, but his words were somehow tentative and contingent, as if they could be withdrawn on a month's notice. Lewis H. Lapham, Harper's, July 1992 Every undogmatic historian is aware of the multitude of contingent events that entered into the victory of the Bolshevik revolution. Sidney Hook, Revolution, Reform & Social Justice, 1975 If the Sovereigns would grant him, contingent on his success, such rank, titles, and property that he and his issue could hold up their heads with the Spanish nobility, well and good … Samuel Eliot Morison, The European Discovery of America, 1974 Noun Hollywood, Madison Avenue, the FCC, and a growing contingent in corporate America: It's hard to imagine a more formidable alliance pushing segregated television. Tamar Jacoby, New Republic, 24 Jan. 2000 A Maori contingent, unable to face the intensity of the Turkish fire, sought shelter in a nearby gully. Martin Gilbert, The First World War, 1994 But just because we banned it [DDT] domestically, under pressure from the bird-watching contingent … it doesn't necessarily follow that the rest of the world was about to jump on the bandwagon. T. Coraghessan Boyle, Harper's, April 1993 The group that makes up the largest contingent of voters in this area is the elderly. A contingent of reporters waited in front of the court for the defendant to appear. A British contingent was sent to assist the security forces. See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Adjective
In the minds of many Southerners, the union was a contingent arrangement, dependent, in large part, on the North’s tolerance for slavery. Fergus M. Bordewich, WSJ, 11 Nov. 2022 His position was far different from many non-tenured or non-tenure-track scholars these days at universities that increasingly rely on contingent adjunct labor. Jill Filipovic, CNN, 4 Oct. 2022 In employment suits, there is a deduction that allows plaintiffs using contingent fee lawyers to offset their legal fees. Robert W. Wood, Forbes, 18 July 2022 Several contingent plotlines add intrigue, including the unfortunate ordeal of a smart local landscaper who is falsely accused of theft by Agnes’ ostentatious cousin Archie Lee, a shareholder eager to capitalize on his holdings. Heller Mcalpin, The Christian Science Monitor, 4 July 2022 McDaniel said that Eastman wanted the RNC to help the Trump campaign gather ‘contingent electors’ in states where Trump was challenging results. Rayna Reid Rayford, Essence, 23 June 2022 The timeline of service improvements Metro presented Thursday is contingent on benchmarks the safety commission set to ensure the wheel defect hasn’t resurfaced. Justin George, Washington Post, 3 Nov. 2022 The $32 million the county promised was to come from American Rescue Plan Act funds, which are government dollars devoted to COVID-19 relief, and the support was contingent on the Wayne County Commission approving the allocation. Detroit Free Press, 2 Nov. 2022 Reading the details on triamcinolone acetonide, I was reminded of Salazar’s infamous zeal for L-carnitine, another substance whose legality is contingent on the way it is administered and the dosage. Martin Fritz Huber, Outside Online, 27 Oct. 2022
Noun
In Syria, the United States worked with the SDF to fight the Islamic State group, and a small contingent of US forces remains in the territory the group controls in northeastern Syria near the Turkish border. Ben Hubbard, BostonGlobe.com, 20 Nov. 2022 Mike Hilton was surprised to see a small yet vocal contingent of fans questioning his commitment to the team last week. Michael Niziolek, cleveland, 8 Nov. 2022 As the Saxon flocks were lost during WWII, all Escorial wool today comes from the descendants of this small contingent and is sourced exclusively by the Escorial Group, which Radford founded in 1998. Eric Twardzik, Robb Report, 26 Oct. 2022 But there were always two intended audiences for the committee’s hearings: the American public, and the small contingent inside the Department of Justice that is weighing the extent of Trump’s criminal liability. Philip Elliott, Time, 13 Oct. 2022 The contracting method that Garver and a small contingent of others pioneered for human spaceflight programs at NASA is what’s come to be known as the commercial contracting structure. Jackie Wattles, CNN, 30 June 2022 Despite the small contingent of CFOs, the finance world will not be underrepresented. Amanda Shendruk, Quartz, 23 May 2022 That sparked anger among a vocal contingent of residents opposed to Berkowitz’s policies on COVID-19, homelessness and other issues, and who saw Quinn-Davidson as a continuation of the Berkowitz administration. Emily Goodykoontz, Anchorage Daily News, 30 Oct. 2022 Mykola stood outside, where he was watched over by another contingent of soldiers. Joshua Yaffa, The New Yorker, 27 Oct. 2022 See More

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

Word History

Etymology

Adjective

Middle English, borrowed from Middle French & Medieval Latin; Middle French, borrowed from Medieval Latin contingent-, contingens "dependent on circumstances, occurring by chance," going back to Latin, present participle of contingere "to be in contact with, arrive at, affect, fall to one's lot, come about, happen," from con- con- + tangere "to touch, border on, arrive at, reach" — more at tangent entry 2

Noun

(sense 1) borrowed from French, "portion that falls to one as a return, part given or received in a common effort, body of troops contributed by an ally," noun derivative of contingent, adjective, "falling to someone as a share, dependent, contingent entry 1"; (sense 2) noun derivative of contingent entry 1

First Known Use

Adjective

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Noun

1548, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of contingent was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near contingent

Cite this Entry

“Contingent.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/contingent. Accessed 28 Nov. 2022.

Kids Definition

contingent 1 of 2

adjective

con·​tin·​gent kən-ˈtin-jənt How to pronounce contingent (audio)
: depending on something else
plans contingent on the weather
contingently adverb

contingent

2 of 2

noun

: a number of persons representing or drawn from an area or group

Legal Definition

contingent

adjective

con·​tin·​gent kən-ˈtin-jənt How to pronounce contingent (audio)
1
: likely but not certain to happen compare executory
2
: intended for use in circumstances not completely foreseen
a contingent fund
3
: dependent on or conditioned by something else
a contingent claim
a legacy contingent on the marriage
compare vested

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