Definition of instance in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈɪnst(ə)ns/


1An example or single occurrence of something: a serious instance of corruption the search finds every instance where the word appears
More example sentences
  • There are lines of communication and despite a few instances which might suggest otherwise, there's been a cordial relationship going on.
  • PorkWatch says there are instances of imported pork and pork products being labelled in ways that might make shoppers think they are British.
  • Importantly, these instances show the direction of the road ahead.
example, occasion, occurrence, case, representative case, typical case, case in point, illustration, specimen, sample, exemplar, exemplification
1.1A particular case: in this instance it mattered little
More example sentences
  • In the first instance, take the matter of evaluation of the worth of a teacher.
  • The detection in these instances is a matter of minutes, but most of these advanced devices are available only in the military.
  • Needless to say, the availability of condoms matters little in these instances.


[with object]
Cite (a fact, case, etc.) as an example: I instanced Bob as someone whose commitment had certainly got things done
More example sentences
  • He agreed that there were few houses being built in rural areas, and instanced the case of the man with the house on the mountainside.
  • He instanced a case of a woman who borrowed £500 from one of these to attend a funeral down the country.
  • In a recent report, Amnesty instanced the case of a farmer from the Shan tribe forced to work by the military.
cite, quote, refer to, make reference to, mention, allude to, adduce, give, give as an example, point to, point out;
specify, name, identify;
bring up, invoke, draw attention to, call attention to, put forward, present, offer, advance, propose



at first instance

Law At the first court hearing concerning a case. See also court of first instance.
Example sentences
  • The Federal Court of Australia at first instance and then on appeal denied judicial review.
  • That court unanimously dismissed an appeal against a judgment entered by Justice Carr at first instance in that court.
  • His application for judicial review was dismissed at first instance on 11 April 2001.

at the instance of

formal At the request or instigation of: prosecution at the instance of the police
More example sentences
  • In criminal causes, an appeal lies to the House of Lords at the instance of the defendant or prosecutor.
  • Extradition proceedings at the instance of the French prosecuting authorities are pending against Parretti in the USA.
  • But, whether it is so expressed or not, it is in my judgment a duty that is owed to the court and which can be enforced by the court at the instance of the English plaintiffs.
instigation, prompting, suggestion;
request, entreaty, solicitation;
wish, desire;
urging, importuning, pressure;
demand, insistence

for instance

As an example: take Canada, for instance
More example sentences
  • Beware of people who say they can find you a specific marble mantelpiece, for instance.
  • There may, for instance, be specific evidence pointing to a clear boundary to the market.
  • For instance, he suggested cities share some of their infrastructure with rural neighbors.

in the first (or second etc.) instance

In the first (or second etc.) place or stage of a proceeding: the appointment will be for three years in the first instance
More example sentences
  • In the first instance, the person who killed the baby would receive a life sentence; in the second instance, the doctor would receive a thank you and a large payment.
  • Indeed, in the second instance, even if you somehow got to where you were supposed to be going, how the hell would you know?
  • He said soldiers may have been acting in self-defense in the second instance.
stage, step;
initially, at first, at the start, at the outset, in/at the beginning, to begin with, to start with, originally, in the early stages


Middle English: via Old French from Latin instantia 'presence, urgency', from instare 'be present, press upon', from in- 'upon' + stare 'to stand'. The original sense was 'urgency, urgent entreaty', surviving in at the instance of. In the late 16th century the word denoted a particular case cited to disprove a general assertion, derived from medieval Latin instantia 'example to the contrary' (translating Greek enstasis 'objection'); hence the meaning ‘single occurrence’.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: in|stance

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