Share this entry

Share this page

contingency

Line breaks: con|tin|gency
Pronunciation: /kənˈtɪndʒ(ə)nsi
 
/

Definition of contingency in English:

noun (plural contingencies)

1A future event or circumstance which is possible but cannot be predicted with certainty: a detailed contract which attempts to provide for all possible contingencies
More example sentences
  • Christmas is looming ever closer, and this morning on the radio warnings were going out to holiday campers, to have a contingency for possible evacuations, in the event of fire.
  • Furthermore, you know that the expected lifetime of the product is uncertain and depends upon future contingencies, including your own way of life, your heartbeat.
  • Did the Bali tragedy and its impact on the hospital and the unit and so on, sort of set up a framework for future contingencies?
Synonyms
eventuality, (chance) event, incident, happening, occurrence, juncture, possibility, accident, chance, emergency;
uncertainty
rare fortuity
1.1A provision for a possible event or circumstance: stores were kept as a contingency against a blockade
More example sentences
  • The Chinese government only has strategic oil reserve contingencies of 50 million barrels of oil - just 25 days supply.
  • There had been no provision for contingencies and it was assumed that design fees and site works were in the original library estimates.
  • And we're all actively planning contingencies right now and preparing for if this storm even brushes close to New Orleans.
1.2An incidental expense: allow an extra fifteen per cent on the budget for contingencies
More example sentences
  • This problem could be largely solved with emergency funds from the federal budget - a contingency provided for by the architects of the policy.
  • Running an Internet cafe at his native place with two like-minded youngsters, Thamby has his own funds for meeting contingency expenses.
  • We recommended this be done through balanced budgets and the application of any unused contingencies to the debt.
1.3 [mass noun] The absence of certainty in events: the island’s public affairs can occasionally be seen to be invaded by contingency
More example sentences
  • The other is indignation at some historians' recourse to contingency and the counterfactual to unsettle old certainties.
  • This hypothesis is also consistent with evidence that suggests that individuals use their knowledge to guide the selection of events to be used in the computation of contingency.
  • The event was briefed, and every contingency was mapped out.
1.4 [mass noun] Philosophy The absence of necessity; the fact of being so without having to be so.
Example sentences
  • This may provide a way beyond the generalised extremes of homogeneity and heterogeneity in analysing the necessity and contingency in organisational forms of capital.
  • But since contingency and necessity cannot coincide, the moving body has to be different from the principle or source of motion.
  • If biology is ruled by contingency rather than necessity then why do we find duplicated designs?

Origin

mid 16th century (in the philosophical sense): from late Latin contingentia (in its medieval Latin sense 'circumstance'), from contingere 'befall' (see contingent).

Words that rhyme with contingency

astringency, stringency

Definition of contingency in:

Share this entry

Share this page

 

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

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

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove ads and access premium resources

Word of the day tenebrous
Pronunciation: ˈtenəbrəs
adjective
dark; shadowy or obscure