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noun, plural con·tin·gen·cies.
  1. dependence on chance or on the fulfillment of a condition; uncertainty; fortuitousness: Nothing was left to contingency.
  2. a contingent event; a chance, accident, or possibility conditional on something uncertain: He was prepared for every contingency.
  3. something incidental to a thing.
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Origin of contingency

First recorded in 1555–65; conting(ent) + -ency

Synonyms for contingency

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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for contingency

probability, exigency, eventuality, emergency, fortuity, break, strait, accident, likelihood, happening, predicament, pinch, odds, uncertainty, chance, event, juncture, incident, pass, occasion

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Historical Examples of 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
  1. something dependent on a possible future event
  2. a fact, event, etc, incidental to or dependent on something else
  3. (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
  4. logic
    1. the state of being contingent
    2. a contingent statement
  5. dependence on chance; uncertainty
  6. statistics
    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
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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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper