[ in-stuhns ]
See synonyms for: instanceinstancedinstances on

  1. a case or occurrence of anything: fresh instances of oppression.

  2. an example put forth in proof or illustration: to cite a few instances.

  1. Also called in·stanced dun·geon . (in an online multiplayer video game) a zone, as a dungeon, to which access is limited to a player or group of players entering simultaneously and working together: each instance is one copy of the zone in which the quests, enemies, items, events, etc., are staged exclusively for the player or group accessing it, without interference from other player characters in the larger online population of the game server.

  2. Law. the institution and prosecution of a case.

  3. Archaic. urgency in speech or action.

  4. Obsolete. an impelling motive.

verb (used with object),in·stanced, in·stanc·ing.
  1. to cite as an instance or example.

  2. to exemplify by an instance.

  1. (in an online multiplayer video game) to design (a zone) as a set of identical copies, staged exclusively for the player or group accessing it, without interference from the larger population of the game server, thereby presenting key narrative elements or achievements in a controlled environment: The game developers instanced a winter wonderland with special quests for the holiday event.

verb (used without object),in·stanced, in·stanc·ing.
  1. to cite an instance.

Idioms about instance

  1. at the instance of, at the urging or suggestion of: He applied for the assistantship at the instance of his professor.

  2. 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

First recorded in 1300–50; Middle English instaunce, from Middle French instance, from Medieval Latin īnstantia “case, example” (Latin “presence, immediate applicability; earnestness, urgency”); see origin at instant, -ance

synonym study For instance

2. See case1.

Other words from instance

  • coun·ter·in·stance, noun
  • un·in·stanced, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use instance in a sentence

  • The history of that terrible hour is brightened by many such instances of native fealty.

    The Red Year | Louis Tracy
  • She had received instructions from both the men and women; in some instances from the children.

  • I could find in the Bible more instances of Jahweh's cruelty and barbarity and lack of mercy than I can find room for.

    God and my Neighbour | Robert Blatchford
  • I only know that there are amongst us, rare instances fortunately, but existent nevertheless—men with the souls of beasts.

    Uncanny Tales | Various
  • Nucleated red cells are always present, although in many instances careful search is required to find them.

    A Manual of Clinical Diagnosis | James Campbell Todd

British Dictionary definitions for instance


/ (ˈɪnstəns) /

  1. a case or particular example

  2. for instance for or as an example

  1. a specified stage in proceedings; step (in the phrases in the first, second, etc, instance)

  2. urgent request or demand (esp in the phrase at the instance of)

  3. logic

  4. archaic motive or reason

  1. to cite as an example

Origin of 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

Other 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.