[ sur-kuhm-stans or, especially British, -stuhns ]
See synonyms for: circumstancecircumstancedcircumstancescircumstancing on

  1. a condition, detail, part, or attribute, with respect to time, place, manner, agent, etc., that accompanies, determines, or modifies a fact or event; a modifying or influencing factor: Do not judge his behavior without considering every circumstance.

  2. Usually circumstances . the existing conditions or state of affairs surrounding and affecting an agent: Circumstances permitting, we sail on Monday.

  1. an unessential or secondary accompaniment of any fact or event; minor detail: The author dwells on circumstances rather than essentials.

  2. circumstances, the condition or state of a person with respect to income and material welfare: a family in reduced circumstances.

  3. an incident or occurrence: His arrival was a fortunate circumstance.

  4. detailed or circuitous narration; specification of particulars: The speaker expatiated with great circumstance upon his theme.

  5. Archaic. ceremonious accompaniment or display: pomp and circumstance.

verb (used with object),cir·cum·stanced, cir·cum·stanc·ing.
  1. to place in particular circumstances or relations: The company was favorably circumstanced by the rise in tariffs.

  2. Obsolete.

    • to furnish with details.

    • to control or guide by circumstances.

Idioms about circumstance

  1. under no circumstances, regardless of events or conditions; never: Under no circumstances should you see them again.

  2. under the circumstances, because of the conditions; as the case stands: Under the circumstances, there is little hope for an early settlement.: Also in the circumstances.

Origin of circumstance

First recorded in 1175–1225; Middle English, from Latin circumstantia (circumstant-, stem of circumstāns, present participle of circumstāre “to stand round”), equivalent to circum- circum- + stā- stand + -nt present participle suffix + -ia noun suffix; see -ance

Other words for circumstance

Words Nearby circumstance Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use circumstance in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for circumstance


/ (ˈsɜːkəmstəns) /

  1. (usually plural) a condition of time, place, etc, that accompanies or influences an event or condition

  2. an incident or occurrence, esp a chance one

  1. accessory information or detail

  2. formal display or ceremony (archaic except in the phrase pomp and circumstance)

  3. under no circumstances or in no circumstances in no case; never

  4. under the circumstances because of conditions; this being the case

  5. in bad circumstances (of a person) in a bad financial situation

  6. in good circumstances (of a person) in a good financial situation

  1. to place in a particular condition or situation

  2. obsolete to give in detail

Origin of circumstance

C13: from Old French circonstance, from Latin circumstantia, from circumstāre to stand around, from circum- + stāre to stand

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

Other Idioms and Phrases with circumstance


see extenuating circumstances; under the circumstances.

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