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)

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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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Those diagnostic tests are the same as those used on occasion—though again, aren't mandated—as screening tests for women with a high risk of the disease: the CA-125 blood test and the TVUS. Maggie O'neill, Health.com, 6 Oct. 2021 Kourtney, 42, posted a collection of festive photos to Instagram Friday, on the occasion of the first day of October. Benjamin Vanhoose, PEOPLE.com, 4 Oct. 2021 On this occasion, the British prime minister was sitting in the atrium of Queen’s University in Belfast, talking to students and promoting his government’s new post-Brexit student-exchange program. Tom Mctague, The Atlantic, 4 Oct. 2021 In addition, even if those that live in the exurbs are working remotely, they will certainly be asked to come and visit a local office or customers on occasion. Lance Eliot, Forbes, 4 Oct. 2021 On that occasion, Murray left the field and immediately headed to the locker room, but was able to return. Jeff Miller, Los Angeles Times, 3 Oct. 2021 The asset manager has purchased Evergrande debt on occasion. Jessica Mathews, Fortune, 1 Oct. 2021 Other times, hackers play it cool, Trend Micro’s Clay said, using your account on occasion or waiting for the right opportunity to use it. Washington Post, 29 Sep. 2021 When the daughter saw her mother leaving the parking lot on this occasion, her boyfriend blocked in her Nissan Altima. John Benson, cleveland, 29 Sep. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb 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 But her observations of him occasion some of the novel’s sharpest insights. Andrew Martin, Harper's Magazine, 15 Sep. 2020 The pandemic is occasioning a reassessment of the fundamental importance of fandom to sports. Danny Chau, The Atlantic, 20 May 2020 Well before the #MeToo era, Allen’s relationship with Previn occasioned a reevaluation of his work. Rumaan Alam, The New Republic, 1 Apr. 2020 Some are still very much with us, like Thatcher’s growing anxiety over the impact that movement toward European integration would have on Britain’s sovereignty, an issue that split her party and cabinet and occasioned her downfall. Benjamin Schwarz, New York Times, 12 Nov. 2019

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.

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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

8 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Occasion.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/occasion. Accessed 18 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for occasion



English Language Learners Definition of occasion

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a special event or time
: a particular time when something happens
: a chance or opportunity : a situation that allows something to happen



English Language Learners Definition of occasion (Entry 2 of 2)

: to cause (something)


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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