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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. Something which is related to, or in some way affects, a fact or event.
    The report should focus on to the current circumstances of the organisation, to help us find a way to grow in the future.
    She went missing in somewhat spooky circumstances.
    • 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, OL 8479084W:
      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.
  3. Circumlocution; detail.
  4. Condition in regard to worldly estate; state of property; situation; surroundings.
    • 1716 May 25 (Gregorian calendar), Joseph Addison, “The Free-holder: No. 42. Monday, May 14. [1716.]”, in The Works of the Right Honourable Joseph Addison, Esq; [], volume IV, London: [] Jacob Tonson, [], published 1721, OCLC 1056445272, page 514:
      When men are eaſy in their circumſtances, they are naturally enemies to innovations: []

Derived terms[edit]


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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, “Matrimonial Prospects”, in Doctor Thorne. [], volume I, London: Chapman & Hall, [], OCLC 458393990, page 184:
      Frank muttered something. Tidings had in some shape reached his 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.