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

  • n. An event that may occur but that is not likely or intended; a possibility.
  • n. A possibility that must be prepared for; a future emergency.
  • n. The condition of being dependent on chance; uncertainty.
  • n. Something incidental to something else.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. An amount of money which a party to a contract has to pay to the other party (usually the supplier of a major project to the client) if he or she does not fulfill the contract according to the specification.
  • n. A statement which is neither a tautology nor a contradiction.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Union or connection; the state of touching or contact.
  • n. The quality or state of being contingent or casual; the possibility of coming to pass.
  • n. An event which may or may not occur; that which is possible or probable; a fortuitous event; a chance.
  • n. An adjunct or accessory.
  • n. A certain possible event that may or may not happen, by which, when happening, some particular title may be affected.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The mode of existence of that which is contingent; the possibility that that which happens might not have happened; that mode of existence, or of coming to pass, which does not involve necessity; a happening by chance or free will; the being true of a proposition which would not under all circumstances be true.
  • n. A casualty; an accident; a fortuitous event, or one which may or may not occur.
  • n. A touching; a falling together; contact: as, “the point of contingency,”
  • n. In biometry, a method of studying statistically biological data that do not admit of numerical expression.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a possible event or occurrence or result
  • n. the state of being contingent on something


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

contingent +‎ -cy (16th century).



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  • In his novel 'Nemesis', Philip Roth describes chance as "the tyranny of contingency".

    January 24, 2013