[sur-kuhm-stans or, esp. British, -stuhns]
a condition, detail, part, or attribute, with respect to time, place, manner,agent, etc., that accompanies, determines, or modifies a fact or event; a modifying or influencing factor: Do not judge his behavior without considering every circumstance.
Usually, circumstances. the existing conditions or state of affairs surrounding and affecting an agent: Circumstances permitting, we sail on Monday.
an unessential or secondary accompaniment of any fact or event; minor detail: The author dwells on circumstances rather than essentials.
circumstances, the condition or state of a person with respect to income and material welfare: a family in reduced circumstances.
an incident or occurrence: His arrival was a fortunate circumstance.
detailed or circuitous narration; specification of particulars: The speaker expatiated with great circumstance upon his theme.
Archaic. ceremonious accompaniment or display: pomp and circumstance.
verb (used with object), circumstanced, circumstancing.
to place in particular circumstances or relations: The company was favorably circumstanced by the rise in tariffs.
to furnish with details.
to control or guide by circumstances.
under no circumstances, regardless of events or conditions; never: Under no circumstances should you see them again.
under the circumstances, because of the conditions; as the case stands: Under the circumstances, there is little hope for an early settlement. Also, in the circumstances.

1175–1225; Middle English < Latin circumstantia (circumstant-, stem of circumstāns, present participle of circumstāre to stand round), equivalent to circum- circum- + stā- stand + -nt present participle suffix + -ia noun suffix; see -ance

7. ritual, formality, splendor. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
circumstance (ˈsɜːkəmstəns)
1.  (usually plural) a condition of time, place, etc, that accompanies or influences an event or condition
2.  an incident or occurrence, esp a chance one
3.  accessory information or detail
4.  formal display or ceremony (archaic except in the phrase pomp and circumstance)
5.  under no circumstances, in no circumstances in no case; never
6.  under the circumstances because of conditions; this being the case
7.  in bad circumstances (of a person) in a bad financial situation
8.  in good circumstances (of a person) in a good financial situation
9.  to place in a particular condition or situation
10.  obsolete to give in detail
[C13: from Old French circonstance, from Latin circumstantia, from circumstāre to stand around, from circum- + stāre to stand]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

early 13c., "conditions surrounding and accompanying an event," from L. circumstantia "surrounding condition," neut. pl. of circumstans (gen. circumstantis), prp. of circumstare "stand around," from circum "around" + stare "to stand" from PIE base *sta- "to stand" (see
stet). Meaning "a person's surroundings, environment" is from mid-14c. Obsolete sense of "formality about an important event" (late 14c.) lingers in Shakespeare's phrase pomp and circumstance ("Othello" III, iii).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases


see extenuating circumstances; under the circumstances.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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