Definition of circumstance in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˈsərkəmˌstans/
Pronunciation: /ˈsərkəmstəns/


1 (usually circumstances) A fact or condition connected with or relevant to an event or action: we wanted to marry but circumstances didn’t permit
More example sentences
  • In my view it was an opinion which is justified by the particular circumstances of the case.
  • But the judgment whether exceptional circumstances exist is not quantitative only, but may be qualitative also.
  • They have just faxed us to say there are unable to travel because of unforeseen circumstances beyond their control.
1.1An event or fact that causes or helps to cause something to happen, typically something undesirable: he was found dead but there were no suspicious circumstances they were thrown together by circumstance
More example sentences
  • What is distracting about these two are the circumstances of their political demise.
  • His parents have spoken of their concerns about the circumstances of his death.
  • But they are thrown together by circumstance, of the imperative to experience every moment as if it were their last, which it might well be.
the facts, the details, the particulars, how things stand, the lay of the land
informal what's what, the score
2One’s state of financial or material welfare: the artists are living in reduced circumstances
More example sentences
  • The magistrates, who can grant financial help in extreme circumstances, turned down his request.
  • Magistrates agreed not to impose any financial penalty due to his financial circumstances.
  • In the end, however, moving home tends to be driven by personal rather than financial circumstances.
financial position, lot, lifestyle;
resources, means, finances, income



under no circumstances

Never, whatever the situation is or might be: under no circumstances may the child be identified
More example sentences
  • You later apologise for losing your temper, but are then given a written warning and told that under no circumstances must you act the same way again.
  • And remember - there is to be no short selling unless normal investors want to buy, and under no circumstances should you go short if you think the market might fall.
  • However, under no circumstances will we transmit a piece of evidence if it could be used to back up a death sentence.

under (or in) the circumstances

Given the difficult nature of the situation: she had every right to be angry under the circumstances
More example sentences
  • Otherwise it is difficult to discuss anything under the circumstances.
  • The ground held up very well under the circumstances but footing was difficult and the ball was extremely greasy.
  • Yet, something about his nature seemed odd under the circumstances.



Example sentences
  • In this way, a social inequality arises between the powerful, the rich and the well-connected, and the poor who are not so fortunately circumstanced.
  • To be interested in the preservation of a thing, is to be so circumstanced with respect to it as to have benefit from its existence, prejudice from its destruction.
  • Time and tests alone will ascertain whether an antidote can be found for those trumpeters over-afflicted with this condition, but, circumstanced as you are, I think it definitely worth a try.


Middle English: from Old French circonstance or Latin circumstantia, from circumstare 'encircle, encompass', from circum 'around' + stare 'stand'.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: cir·cum·stance

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.