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[ih-mur-juh n-see] /ɪˈmɜr dʒən si/
noun, plural emergencies.
a sudden, urgent, usually unexpected occurrence or occasion requiring immediate action.
a state, especially of need for help or relief, created by some unexpected event:
a weather emergency; a financial emergency.
granted, used, or for use in an emergency:
an emergency leave; emergency lights.
1625-35; < Medieval Latin ēmergentia, equivalent to ēmerg- (see emerge) + -entia -ency. See emergent
Related forms
nonemergency, adjective, noun, plural nonemergencies.
postemergency, adjective
preemergency, adjective, noun, plural preemergencies.
1. exigency, extremity, pinch, quandary, plight. Emergency, crisis, straits refer to dangerous situations. An emergency is a situation demanding immediate action: A power failure created an emergency in transportation. A crisis is a vital or decisive turning point in a condition or state of affairs, and everything depends on the outcome of it: Help arrived when affairs had reached a crisis. Strait (usually straits ) suggests a pressing situation, often one of need or want: The family was in desperate straits for food and clothing. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for emergencies
  • How many human emergencies can be transported to needed medical care within minutes.
  • They have protocols and checklists for bad weather, emergencies, the inoculations they must dispense.
  • He has shown himself able to meet with calmness the great emergencies of the government.
  • Occasionally it enables one to meet emergencies in the best possible fashion.
  • There are emergencies which require the instant exercise of extreme power.
  • Also, rechargeable spotlights and flashlights are great for outdoor adventures as well as weather emergencies.
  • They have designed safe areas for folks to work in during emergencies.
  • The salt is good for trading and the two gold coins are for emergencies.
  • Solar-powered mobile phones allow on-call doctors to be alerted when obstetric emergencies require surgery.
  • Mechanical brains, though they minimize the possibility of human error, cannot cope with emergencies or changes in flight plans.
British Dictionary definitions for emergencies


noun (pl) -cies
  1. an unforeseen or sudden occurrence, esp of a danger demanding immediate remedy or action
  2. (as modifier): an emergency exit
  1. a patient requiring urgent treatment
  2. (as modifier): an emergency ward
state of emergency, a condition, declared by a government, in which martial law applies, usually because of civil unrest or natural disaster
(NZ) a player selected to stand by to replace an injured member of a team; reserve
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 emergencies



"unforeseen occurrence requiring immediate attention," 1630s, from Latin emergens, present participle of emergere (see emerge). Or from emerge + -ency.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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