Definitions

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

  • adj. Liable to occur but not with certainty; possible: "All salaries are reckoned on contingent as well as on actual services” ( Ralph Waldo Emerson).
  • adj. Dependent on conditions or occurrences not yet established; conditional: arms sales contingent on the approval of Congress. See Synonyms at dependent.
  • adj. Happening by chance or accident; fortuitous. See Synonyms at accidental.
  • adj. Logic True only under certain conditions; not necessarily or universally true: a contingent proposition.
  • n. An event or condition that is likely but not inevitable.
  • n. A share or quota, as of troops, contributed to a general effort.
  • n. A representative group forming part of an assemblage.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. An event which may or may not happen; that which is unforeseen, undetermined, or dependent on something future; a contingency.
  • n. That which falls to one in a division or apportionment among a number; a suitable share; proportion;
  • n. a quota of troops.
  • adj. Possible or liable, but not certain to occur; incidental; casual.
  • adj. Dependent on something that is undetermined or unknown.
  • adj. Dependent on something that may or may not occur.
  • adj. Not logically necessarily true or false.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Possible, or liable, but not certain, to occur; incidental; casual.
  • adj. Dependent on that which is undetermined or unknown.
  • adj. Dependent for effect on something that may or may not occur.
  • n. An event which may or may not happen; that which is unforeseen, undetermined, or dependent on something future; a contingency.
  • n. That which falls to one in a division or apportionment among a number; a suitable share; proportion; esp., a quota of troops.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Not existing or occurring through necessity; due to chance or to a free agent; accidentally existing or true; hence, without a known or apparent cause or reason, or caused by something which would not in every case act; dependent upon the will of a human being, or other finite free agent.
  • Dependent upon a foreseen possibility; provisionally liable to exist, happen, or take effect in the future; conditional: as, a contingent remainder after the payment of debts; a journey contingent upon the receipt of advices; a contingent promise.
  • n. An event dependent either upon accident or upon the will of a finite free agent; an event not determinable by any rule.
  • n. That which falls to one in a division or apportionment among a number; a quota; specifically, the share or proportion of troops to be furnished by one of several contracting powers; the share actually furnished: as, the Turkish contingent in the Crimean war.

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

  • n. a gathering of persons representative of some larger group
  • adj. determined by conditions or circumstances that follow
  • adj. possible but not certain to occur
  • n. a temporary military unit
  • adj. uncertain because of uncontrollable circumstances

Etymologies

Middle English, from Latin contingēns, contingent-, present participle of contingere, to touch; see contact.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Medieval Latin contingens ("possible, contingent"), properly present participle of Latin contingere ("to touch, meet, attain to, happen"), from com- ("together") + tangere ("to touch"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Thus the soul is, on one side, linked to the unchangeable and the eternal, being formed of that ineffable element which constitutes the _real_ or _immutable Being_, and on the other side, linked to the sensible and the contingent, being formed of that element which is purely _relative_ and _contingent_.

    Christianity and Greek Philosophy or, the relation between spontaneous and reflective thought in Greece and the positive teaching of Christ and His Apostles

  • And if there is such an idea as the idea of a contingent being ” if ˜contingent being™ is a meaningful phrase ”, then there would seem to be such an idea as the complement of that idea, the idea of a necessary being, the idea of a being of which it is false that it might not have existed.

    Metaphysics

  • The term "contingent resources" is a broader description of potentially recoverable volumes than proved, probable and possible reserves, as defined by the SEC regulations.

  • Horowitz argues that the term "contingent" is outdated and should no longer be used to describe workers.

    BusinessWeek.com -- Top News

  • This contingent is ably represented, this time out, by Marta Salij of the Detroit Free Press and Tom Deveson of the Times.

    The Abyss and the Critics

  • FINNEGAN: A lot of people now then are part of what you describe as the contingent workforce.

    CNN Transcript Nov 3, 2009

  • The Boston contingent is looking for a nice dinner spot near the Brooklyn Lyceum.

    Tew's Day!

  • We keep reading that the female hunting contingent is increasing, while the male hunting contingent is decreasing in our population.

    Ladies in distress! Rally up boys and girls!

  • The Garmin contingent, Christian Vande Velde, Danny Pate and Tyler Farrar all finished as a part of the second main group with Dave Zabriskie pulling out during the race.

    Thor Hushovd wins world road racing title

  • A memorial service is planned at 3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 14, in the Edmeston Union Cemetery, where military honors will be accorded by members of American Legion and VFW posts, and a contingent from the state Military Forces Honor Guard.

    Heroes or Villains?

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