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[kuh n-tin-juh n-see] /kənˈtɪn dʒən si/
noun, plural contingencies.
dependence on chance or on the fulfillment of a condition; uncertainty; fortuitousness:
Nothing was left to contingency.
a contingent event; a chance, accident, or possibility conditional on something uncertain:
He was prepared for every contingency.
something incidental to a thing.
Origin of contingency
1555-65; conting(ent) + -ency
2. emergency, likelihood, predicament. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for contingency
  • It gets the job done, even if it doesn't let you ask every question or address every contingency.
  • Create a contingency that outsources each office's duties to other locations and/or third-party vendors.
  • Even area hospitals have been briefed on emergency contingency plans.
  • Political scientists and campaign consultants tend not to account for contingency when they are busy predicting the future.
  • Human beings don't want to accept radical contingency.
  • And they should draw up contingency plans for cutting costs without damaging vital investments if revenues fall short.
  • They have forecasted what can be forecast and formulated contingency plans ready for use when unforeseeable shocks occurred.
  • Since they are working on a contingency basis, they stand to gain a substantial portion of any damages.
  • The find will have no effect on the federal budget, because the bad bank clean-up comes out of a special contingency budget.
  • To make something secure you have to plan for every possible thing that could happen and prevent it or have a contingency.
British Dictionary definitions for contingency


noun (pl) -cies
  1. a possible but not very likely future event or condition; eventuality
  2. (as modifier): a contingency plan
something dependent on a possible future event
a fact, event, etc, incidental to or dependent on something else
(in systemic grammar)
  1. modification of the meaning of a main clause by use of a bound clause introduced by a binder such as if, when, though, or since Compare adding (sense 3)
  2. (as modifier): a contingency clause
  1. the state of being contingent
  2. a contingent statement
dependence on chance; uncertainty
  1. the degree of association between theoretical and observed common frequencies of two graded or classified variables. It is measured by the chi-square test
  2. (as modifier): a contingency table, the contingency coefficient
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for contingency

1560s, "quality of being contingent," from contingent + -cy. Meaning "a chance occurrence" is from 1610s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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