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Alternative forms[edit]


From Middle English circumstaunce, from Old French circonstance, from Latin circumstantia



circumstance (countable and uncountable, plural circumstances)

  1. That which attends, or relates to, or in some way affects, a fact or event; an attendant thing or state of things.
    • 1819, Washington Irving, The Broken Heart
      The circumstances are well known in the country where they happened.
    • 1905, Baroness Emmuska Orczy, chapter 1, in The Tragedy in Dartmoor Terrace[1]:
      “The story of this adoption is, of course, the pivot round which all the circumstances of the mysterious tragedy revolved. Mrs. Yule had an only son, namely, William, to whom she was passionately attached ; but, like many a fond mother, she had the desire of mapping out that son's future entirely according to her own ideas. […]”
  2. An event; a fact; a particular incident.
    • 1705, Joseph Addison, “Florence”, in Remarks on Several Parts of Italy, &c. in the years 1701, 1702, 1703:
      The Sculptor had in his thoughts the Conqueror's weeping for new worlds, or the like circumstances in history.
    • 1834, David Crockett, A Narrative of the Life of, Nebraska 1987, p. 20:
      Then another circumstance happened, which made a lasting impression on my memory, though I was but a small child.
  3. Circumlocution; detail.
  4. Condition in regard to worldly estate; state of property; situation; surroundings.
    • May 14 1716, Joseph Addison, The Freeloader No. 42
      When men are easy in their circumstances, they are naturally enemies to innovations.

Derived terms[edit]


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.


circumstance (third-person singular simple present circumstances, present participle circumstancing, simple past and past participle circumstanced)

  1. To place in a particular situation, especially with regard to money or other resources.
    • 1858, Anthony Trollope, chapter 8, in Doctor Thorne:
      Tidings had in some shape reached is ears that his father was not comfortably circumstanced as regarded money.
    • 1949, Diderot studies, volume 11, page 170:
      While also taxing Ferrein with the same motives, Diderot's account of his doings is much more circumstanced than La Mettrie's, and also much more amusing, thanks to the interpolation of the «bijoux» motif.