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Alternative forms[edit]


Borrowed from Middle French instance, from Latin īnstantia (a being near, presence, also perseverance, earnestness, importunity, urgency), from īnstāns (urgent); see instant.


  • IPA(key): /ˈɪnstəns/
  • (file)


instance (plural instances)

  1. (obsolete) Urgency of manner or words; an urgent request; insistence. [14th–19th c.]
  2. (obsolete) A token; a sign; a symptom or indication.
  3. (obsolete) That which is urgent; motive.
  4. (obsolete) A piece of evidence; a proof or sign (of something). [16th–18th c.]
  5. Occasion; order of occurrence.
    • 1713, [Matthew Hale], “Concerning the Distribution of the Laws of England into Common Law, and Statute Law. And First, Concerning the Statute Law, or Acts of Parliament.”, in The History of the Common Law of England: [], [London]: [] J[ohn] Nutt, assignee of Edw[ard] Sayer Esq; for J. Walthoe, [], OCLC 723462176, page 14:
      The Statutes, or Acts of Parliament themſelves. Theſe ſeem, as if in the Time of Edw[ard] I. they were drawn up into the Form of a Law in the firſt Inſtance, and ſo aſſented to by both Houſes, and the King, as may appear by the very Obſervation of the Contexture and Fabrick of the Statutes of thoſe Times.
  6. A case offered as an exemplification or a precedent; an illustrative example. [from 16th c.]
    • August 30, 1706, Francis Atterbury, a sermon preach'd in the Cathedral Church of St. Paul, at the funeral of Mr. Tho. Bennet
      most remarkable instances of suffering
    • 1624, Democritus Junior [pseudonym; Robert Burton], The Anatomy of Melancholy: [], 2nd edition, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Printed by John Lichfield and James Short, for Henry Cripps, OCLC 54573970:
      sometimes we love those that are absent, saith Philostratus, and gives instance in his friend Athenodorus, that loved a maid at Corinth whom he never saw []
  7. One of a series of recurring occasions, cases, essentially the same.
    • 2006, Robert Spaemann, Persons: The Difference Between 'someone' and 'something', page 115:
      One's own death is an 'accidental' event, simply another instance of the general rule that human beings die.
    • 2010, Kenneth Anderson, How to Change Your Drinking: a Harm Reduction Guide to Alcohol, page 59:
      If you choose to drink again the best way to avoid another instance of withdrawal is to avoid drinking two days in a row.
    • 2010 October 11, Mark King, “Homeowners warned to be vigilant as identity and registration fraud rises”, in The Guardian[2]:
      The organisations claim fraudsters are targeting properties belonging to both individuals and companies, in some instances using forged documents.
  8. (computing) A specific occurrence of something that is created or instantiated, such as a database, or an object of a class in object-oriented programming. [from 20th c.]
    • 2000, Dov Bulka, David Mayhew, Efficient C++: Performance Programming Techniques, page 149:
      Some compilers will allow statics to be inlined, but then incorrectly create multiple instances of the inlined variable at run-time.
  9. (massively multiplayer online games) A dungeon or other area that is duplicated for each player, or each party of players, that enters it, so that each player or party has a private copy of the area, isolated from other players.
  10. (massively multiplayer online games) An individual copy of such a dungeon or other area.
    • 2005 January 11, Patrick B., "Re: Instance dungeons", in, Usenet:
      The instance is created for the group that enters it.
    • 2005 December 6, "Rene" (username), "Re: Does group leader affect drops?", in, Usenet:
      As soon as the first player enters (spawns) a new instance, it appears that the loottable is somehow chosen.
    • 2010, Anthony Steed & Manuel Fradinho Oliveira, Networked Graphics: Building Networked Games and Virtual Environments, Elsevier, →ISBN, page 398:
      A castle on the eastern edge of the island spawns a new instance whenever a party of players enters.

Derived terms[edit]

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instance (third-person singular simple present instances, present participle instancing, simple past and past participle instanced)

  1. (transitive) To mention as a case or example; to refer to; to cite
    • 1834, L[etitia] E[lizabeth] L[andon], Francesca Carrara. [], volume III, London: Richard Bentley, [], (successor to Henry Colburn), OCLC 630079698, page 93:
      The reason why so many fallacious opinions have passed into proverbs is owing to that carelessness which makes the individual instance the general rule.
    • 1901 April 12, “Veterinary Departmental Report for February, 1901”, in The Agricultural Journal and Mining Record[3], volume 4, number 3, page 87:
      District Veterinary Surgeon Hutchinson's report from Newcastle is again worthy of notice, as instancing the difficulty of suppression of contagious disease under the disturbed conditions now existing in the northern part of the Colony.
    • 1946, E. M. Butler, Rainer Maria Rilke, p. 404
      The poems which I have instanced are concrete and relatively glaring examples of the intangible difference which the change of language made in Rilke's visions .
  2. (intransitive) To cite an example as proof; to exemplify.





Etymology 1[edit]

From Latin instantia.


instance f (plural instances)

  1. (often in the plural) urgent demand, insistence, plea
  2. authority, forum, agency, body
  3. (law) legal proceedings, prosecution process
  4. (object-oriented programming) instance
Derived terms[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

A derivative of etymology 1, but reborrowed from English.


instance f (plural instances)

  1. (computing) instance

Further reading[edit]