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[in-stuh ns] /ˈɪn stəns/
a case or occurrence of anything:
fresh instances of oppression.
an example put forth in proof or illustration:
to cite a few instances.
Law. the institution and prosecution of a case.
Archaic. urgency in speech or action.
Obsolete. an impelling motive.
verb (used with object), instanced, instancing.
to cite as an instance or example.
to exemplify by an instance.
verb (used without object), instanced, instancing.
to cite an instance.
at the instance of, at the urging or suggestion of:
He applied for the assistantship at the instance of his professor.
for instance, as an example; for example:
If you were to go to Italy, for instance, you would get a different perspective on our culture.
Origin of instance
1300-50; Middle English < Latin instantia presence, urgency (Medieval Latin: case, example). See instant, -ance
Related forms
counterinstance, noun
uninstanced, adjective
2. See case1 . Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for instance
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • But perhaps as a—well, as a father, for instance— That bright boy of theirs now.

    Love and Lucy Maurice Henry Hewlett
  • She made several attempts to see him; but in no instance did she succeed.

    Deerbrook Harriet Martineau
  • It was not a large ball, by no means on the scale of Mr. Chamberlin's, for instance.

    A Modern Chronicle, Complete Winston Churchill
  • The line of decency, for instance in dress, is always paradoxical.

    Folkways William Graham Sumner
  • For instance, in the Christmas holidays I can have you to stay with me at Brighton.

    Betty Vivian L. T. Meade
British Dictionary definitions for instance


a case or particular example
for instance, for or as an example
a specified stage in proceedings; step (in the phrases in the first, second, etc, instance)
urgent request or demand (esp in the phrase at the instance of)
  1. an expression derived from another by instantiation
  2. See substitution (sense 4b)
(archaic) motive or reason
verb (transitive)
to cite as an example
Word Origin
C14 (in the sense: case, example): from Medieval Latin instantia example, (in the sense: urgency) from Latin: a being close upon, presence, from instāns pressing upon, urgent; see instant
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for instance

mid-14c., "urgency," from Old French instance "eagerness, anxiety, solicitation" (13c.), from Latin instantia "presence, effort intention; earnestness, urgency," literally "a standing near," from instans (see instant). In Scholastic logic, "a fact or example" (early 15c.), from Medieval Latin instantia, used to translate Greek enstasis. This led to use in phrase for instance "as an example" (1650s), and the noun phrase To give (someone) a for instance (1953, American English).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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instance in Technology

An individual object of a certain class. While a class is just the type definition, an actual usage of a class is called "instance". Each instance of a class can have different values for its instance variables, i.e. its state.

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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Idioms and Phrases with instance


see under for example
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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