View synonyms for chance


[ chans, chahns ]


  1. the absence of any cause of events that can be predicted, understood, or controlled: often personified or treated as a positive agency:

    Chance governs all.

    Antonyms: necessity

  2. luck or fortune:

    a game of chance.

    Synonyms: fortuity, accident

  3. a possibility or probability of anything happening:

    a fifty-percent chance of success.

    Synonyms: contingency

  4. an opportune or favorable time; opportunity:

    Now is your chance.

    Synonyms: opening

  5. Baseball. an opportunity to field the ball and make a putout or an assist.
  6. a risk or hazard:

    Take a chance.

  7. a share or ticket in a lottery or prize drawing:

    The charity is selling chances for a dollar each.

  8. chances, probability:

    The chances are that the train hasn't left yet.

  9. Midland and Southern U.S. a quantity or number (usually followed by of ):

    a fine chance of tomatoes, harvested fresh from the garden today.

  10. Archaic. an unfortunate event; mishap.

verb (used without object)

, chanced, chanc·ing.
  1. to happen or occur by chance:

    It chanced that our arrivals coincided.

    Synonyms: befall

verb (used with object)

, chanced, chanc·ing.
  1. to take the chances or risks of; risk (often followed by impersonal it ):

    I'll have to chance it, whatever the outcome.


  1. not planned or expected; accidental:

    a chance occurrence.

    Synonyms: fortuitous, casual

verb phrase

  1. to come upon by chance; meet unexpectedly:

    She chanced on a rare kind of mushroom during her walk through the woods.


/ tʃɑːns /


    1. the unknown and unpredictable element that causes an event to result in a certain way rather than another, spoken of as a real force
    2. ( as modifier ) fortuitous

      a chance meeting

  1. fortune; luck; fate
  2. an opportunity or occasion
  3. a risk; gamble

    you take a chance with his driving

  4. the extent to which an event is likely to occur; probability
  5. an unpredicted event, esp a fortunate one

    that was quite a chance, finding him here

  6. archaic.
    an unlucky event; mishap
  7. by chance
    1. accidentally

      he slipped by chance

    2. perhaps

      do you by chance have a room?

  8. chances are… or the chances are…
    it is likely (that) …
  9. on the chance
    acting on the possibility; in case
  10. the main chance
    the opportunity for personal gain (esp in the phrase an eye to the main chance )


  1. tr to risk; hazard

    I'll chance the worst happening

  2. to happen by chance; be the case by chance

    I chanced to catch sight of her as she passed

  3. chance on or chance upon
    to come upon by accident

    he chanced on the solution to his problem

  4. chance one's arm
    to attempt to do something although the chance of success may be slight

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Derived Forms

  • ˈchanceless, adjective
  • ˈchanceful, adjective

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Other Words From

  • chance·less adjective
  • un·chanced adjective

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Word History and Origins

Origin of chance1

First recorded in 1250–1300; Middle English chaunce, chance, chea(u)nce, from Old French chance, cheance from unattested Vulgar Latin cadentia “a befalling, happening”; cadenza

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Word History and Origins

Origin of chance1

C13: from Old French cheance, from cheoir to fall, occur, from Latin cadere

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Idioms and Phrases

  1. by chance, without plan or intent; accidentally:

    I met her again by chance in a department store in Paris.

  2. on the chance, in the mild hope or against the possibility:

    I'll wait on the chance that she'll come.

  3. on the off chance, in the very slight hope or against the very slight possibility:

    I’m free Friday, on the off chance that you end up with a spare ticket to the concert.

More idioms and phrases containing chance

  • by chance
  • Chinaman's chance
  • eye to the main chance
  • fat chance
  • fighting chance
  • jump at (the chance)
  • not have an earthly chance
  • on the (off) chance
  • snowball's chance in hell
  • sporting chance
  • stand a chance
  • take a chance
  • take one's chances

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Synonym Study

See happen.

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Example Sentences

Few of those who say they are “probably” going to vote for one candidate say there is a “chance” they would vote for the other candidate, suggesting that some of these “swing” voters may not vote on Election Day, the pollsters said.

In Pennsylvania, the Supreme Court voted on a strict party line, with the court’s two Republicans partially dissenting, writing in a separate opinion that the Green Party ticket should have been given a chance to fix its paperwork.

The news was bleak—Paul would need a kidney transplant if he had any chance of living a long life.

Clearly, some state polls missed the mark in 2016, leading forecasts to assume he had less of a chance of winning than he did.

When the NHL playoffs began, the bookmakers didn’t give the Dallas Stars much of a chance to win the Stanley Cup.

With chemotherapy, her doctors give her at least an 80 percent chance of survival.

At the moment, the only chance I get is when I go do Late Night with Seth Meyers.

Is there any chance the potential 2016 hopeful will stand up to the right and embrace paid sick leave?

Do those things," he said,  "and you'll have half a chance of being successful.

Heinold's First and Last Chance, Oakland (Jack London, Taft) You can thank Johnny Heinold for your favorite Jack London book.

If you throw away this chance, you will both richly deserve to be hanged, as I sincerely trust you will be.

Instead of giving you a chance to say, "He has made a mistake," he forced you to say, "He has shown how to get out of a mistake."

Few of us there are who would not gladly read and speak several more languages if we had the chance of doing so.

In running over many words, the intellect might be arrested by chance.

But it was my only chance then; or rather I had seen enough of business to avoid making mistakes when I could.


Definitions and idiom definitions from Unabridged, based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

Idioms from The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.