American English

Definition of circumstance noun from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



    jump to other results
  1. 1[countable, usually plural] the conditions and facts that are connected with and affect a situation, an event, or an action The company reserves the right to cancel this agreement in certain circumstances. changing social and political circumstances I know I can trust her in any circumstance. Police said there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding the boy's death. The ship sank in mysterious circumstances. She never discovered the true circumstances of her birth. Thesaurussituationcircumstances position conditions things the case state of affairsThese are all words for the conditions and facts that are connected with and affect the way things are.situation all the things that are happening at a particular time and in a particular place:the current economic situationcircumstances the facts that are connected with and affect a situation, an event, or an action; the conditions of a person's life, especially the money they have:The ship sank in mysterious circumstances.position the situation that someone is in, especially when it affects what they can and cannot do:She knew that she was in a position of power.conditions the circumstances in which people live, work, or do things; the physical situation that affects how something happens:We were forced to work outside in freezing conditions.circumstances or conditions?Circumstances often refers to someone's financial situation;conditions are things such as the quality and amount of food or shelter they have. The circumstances that affect an event are the facts surrounding it; the conditions that affect it are usually physical ones, such as the weather.things (somewhat informal) the general situation, as it affects someone:Hi, Jane! How are things? Think things over before you decide.the case the true situation:If that is the case (= if the situation described is true), we need more staff.state of affairs a situation:Well, this is certainly a sorry state of affairs.situation or state of affairs?State of affairs is mostly used with this. It is also used with adjectives describing how good or bad a situation is, such as happy, sorry, shocking, and sad, as well as those relating to time, such as present and current. Situation is much more frequent and is used in a wider variety of contexts.Patterns in (a) particular situation/circumstances/position/state of affairs the/somebody's economic/financial/social situation/circumstances/position/conditions (a/an) happy/fortunate/unfortunate/sad situation/circumstances/position/state of affairs to look at/review the situation/circumstances/conditions/things
  2. 2circumstances [plural] the conditions of a person's life, especially the money they have Grants are awarded according to your financial circumstances. family/domestic/personal circumstances
  3. 3[uncountable] (formal) situations and events that affect and influence your life and that are not in your control a victim of circumstance (= a person who has suffered because of a situation that they cannot control) He had to leave the country through force of circumstance (= events made it necessary). We were simply thrown together by circumstance on the long journey.
  4. Idioms
    in/under the circumstances
    jump to other results
    used before or after a statement to show that you have thought about the conditions that affect a situation before making a decision or a statement Under the circumstances, it seemed better not to tell him about the accident. She did the job very well in the circumstances.
    in/under no circumstances
    jump to other results
    used to emphasize that something should never happen or be allowed Under no circumstances should you lend Paul any money. Don't open the door, in any circumstances.
    pomp and circumstance
    jump to other results
    formal and impressive ceremony
    reduced circumstances
    jump to other results
    the state of being poorer than you were before. People sayliving in reduced circumstancesto avoid sayingpoor.
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: circumstance