[in-stuh ns]


verb (used with object), in·stanced, in·stanc·ing.

to cite as an instance or example.
to exemplify by an instance.

verb (used without object), in·stanced, in·stanc·ing.

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 formscoun·ter·in·stance, nounun·in·stanced, adjective

Synonym study

2. See case1. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for instance

Contemporary Examples of instance

Historical Examples of instance

  • Don't you think I might find some stored away in the cellar, for instance?

    Brave and Bold

    Horatio Alger

  • To Kate, for instance, she was a necessity of existence, like light or air.


    Thomas Wentworth Higginson

  • I know that in Paris, for instance, I myself have no temptations.


    Thomas Wentworth Higginson

  • For instance, take a concrete case; so best can we illustrate.

    'Tis Sixty Years Since

    Charles Francis Adams

  • When large shipments of gold were to be made, for instance, he was often warned beforehand.

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 (def. 4b)
archaic motive or reason

verb (tr)

to cite as an example

Word Origin for instance

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

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

Idioms and Phrases with instance


see under for example.

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