noun, plural con·tin·gen·cies.

dependence on chance or on the fulfillment of a condition; uncertainty; fortuitousness: Nothing was left to contingency.
a contingent event; a chance, accident, or possibility conditional on something uncertain: He was prepared for every contingency.
something incidental to a thing.

Nearby words

  1. continentalize,
  2. continently,
  3. continents,
  4. contingence,
  5. contingencies,
  6. contingency fund,
  7. contingency plan,
  8. contingency reserve,
  9. contingency table,
  10. contingency tax

Origin of contingency

First recorded in 1555–65; conting(ent) + -ency Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for contingency

British Dictionary definitions for contingency


noun plural -cies

  1. a possible but not very likely future event or condition; eventuality
  2. (as modifier)a contingency plan
something dependent on a possible future event
a fact, event, etc, incidental to or dependent on something else
(in systemic grammar)
  1. modification of the meaning of a main clause by use of a bound clause introduced by a binder such as if, when, though, or sinceCompare adding (def. 3)
  2. (as modifier)a contingency clause
  1. the state of being contingent
  2. a contingent statement
dependence on chance; uncertainty
  1. the degree of association between theoretical and observed common frequencies of two graded or classified variables. It is measured by the chi-square test
  2. (as modifier)a contingency table; the contingency coefficient
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

Word Origin and History for contingency



1560s, "quality of being contingent," from contingent + -cy. Meaning "a chance occurrence" is from 1610s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper