from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun The unknown and unpredictable element in happenings that seems to have no assignable cause.
  • noun A force assumed to cause events that cannot be foreseen or controlled; luck.
  • noun The likelihood of something happening; possibility or probability.
  • noun An accidental or unpredictable event.
  • noun A favorable set of circumstances; an opportunity.
  • noun A risk or hazard; a gamble.
  • noun Games A raffle or lottery ticket.
  • noun Baseball An opportunity to make a putout or an assist that counts as an error if unsuccessful.
  • adjective Caused by or ascribable to chance; unexpected, random, or casual.
  • transitive verb To take the risk or hazard of.
  • transitive verb To have the fortune (to be or do something); happen.
  • transitive verb Used with the impersonal subject it and a following clause or infinitive to indicate the occurrence of a usually unexpected or chance event.
  • idiom (by chance) Without plan; accidentally.
  • idiom (by chance) Possibly; perchance.
  • idiom (on the off chance) In the slight hope or possibility.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • By chance; perchance.
  • To happen; fall out; come or arrive without design or expectation.
  • To befall or happen to.
  • To risk; hazard; take the chances of: as, the thing may be dangerous, but I will chance it.
  • noun Fall; falling.
  • noun A throw of dice; the number turned up by a die.
  • noun Hence Risk; hazard; a balanced possibility of gain or loss, particularly in gaming; uncertainty.
  • noun A contingent or unexpected event; an event which might or might not befall.
  • noun Vicissitude; contingent or unexpected events in a series or collectively.
  • noun Luck; fortune; that which happens to or befalls one.
  • noun Opportunity; a favorable contingency: as, now is your chance.
  • noun Probability; the proportion of events favorable to a hypothesis out of all those which may occur: as, the chances are against your succeeding.
  • noun Fortuity; especially, the absence of a cause necessitating an event, or the absence of any known reason why an event should turn out one way rather than another, spoken of as if it were a real agency; the variability of an event under given general conditions, viewed as a real agency.
  • Resulting from or due to chance; casual; unexpected: as, a chance remark; a chance customer.
  • Synonyms Casual, Fortuitous, etc. See accidental.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • intransitive verb To happen, come, or arrive, without design or expectation.
  • transitive verb To take the chances of; to venture upon; -- usually with it as object.
  • transitive verb obsolete To befall; to happen to.
  • adjective Happening by chance; casual.
  • adverb By chance; perchance.
  • noun A supposed material or psychical agent or mode of activity other than a force, law, or purpose; fortune; fate; -- in this sense often personified.
  • noun The operation or activity of such agent.
  • noun The supposed effect of such an agent; something that befalls, as the result of unknown or unconsidered forces; the issue of uncertain conditions; an event not calculated upon; an unexpected occurrence; a happening; accident; fortuity; casualty.
  • noun A possibility; a likelihood; an opportunity; -- with reference to a doubtful result.
  • noun (Math.) Probability.
  • noun one who comes unexpectedly.
  • noun the sole remaining ground of hope.
  • noun the chief opportunity; that upon which reliance is had, esp. self-interest.
  • noun (Math.) that branch of mathematics which treats of the probability of the occurrence of particular events, as the fall of dice in given positions.
  • noun to take advantage of every circumstance; to seize every opportunity.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun countable An opportunity or possibility.
  • noun uncountable Random occurrence; luck.


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English, unexpected event, from Old French, from Vulgar Latin *cadentia, from Latin cadēns, cadent-, present participle of cadere, to fall, befall; see kad- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old French cheance ("accident, chance, luck"), from Vulgar Latin cadentia ("falling"), from Latin cadō ("I fall, I die").


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  • Snow Potential Index: 5 ↑ - Little chance of snow Tuesday now, but *chance* of snow in the 12/24 to 12/26 time frame is real even if details fuzzy.

    Forecast: Cold week with Christmas snow risk Jason Samenow 2010

  • A 'chance remark' -- there is no _chance_ in a believer's life!

    George Müller of Bristol And His Witness to a Prayer-Hearing God 1874

  • Then, with a chance to win, he struck a putt that never had a chance_ wide and nearly 12 inches shy of the cup. Chronicle 2009

  • (... there is SOO much in that * book*-if Twilight was already so big and there was such a big chance for dissapointment then there is going to be a HUGE * chance* ...)

    Entertainment Weekly's PopWatch 2009

  • (... there is SOO much in that * book*-if Twilight was already so big and there was such a big chance for dissapointment then there is going to be a HUGE * chance* ...)

    Entertainment Weekly's PopWatch 2009

  • The win by Iowa Western thwarted yet another title chance for San Jacinto, which has won more national titles (5) and been to JUCO more times (21) than any team in NJCAA Divison I baseball. Chronicle 2010

  • The title chance will put the cherry on the cake of a sensational first two years in the pro ring for the Wirral warrior, who turned over without the usual fanfare associated with prospects.

    icLiverpool 2009

  • My command are in admirable spirits and to a man are confident of the ultimate success of our arms, and are all anxious to be detailed on picket or other duty where a chance is afforded them to avenge themselves on the rebels, who are attempting to destroy their country.

    Your History Moment: Hiram Berdan’s Sharpshooters in the Siege of Yorktown « Third Point of Singularity 2009

  • I guess that taking this chance is the price one must pay for "the good life".

    Page 2 2009

  • Or more complicatedly the actor assumes x amount of risk that he will be caught, how high are the penalties and how great a chance is there for him to get caught before a rational actor will pay for music?

    Matthew Yglesias » Intellectual Property is About Consumers 2010


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  • French luck.

    January 9, 2008