Definition of contingency in English:



  • 1A future event or circumstance that is possible but cannot be predicted with certainty.

    ‘a detailed contract that attempts to provide for all possible contingencies’
    • ‘There was obvious and unavoidable difficulty in persuading the bank to lend money on the basis of future contingencies.’
    • ‘Moses is trying to wriggle out of his mission by highlighting possible contingencies and his own inadequacy.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘This provided the frame of reference for determining what range of resupply times is probable in future contingencies.’
    • ‘For sustainability and depth, we maintained the next-up company on a two-hour launch string, while keeping the third company down for future contingencies.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘This was a contingency that most had predicted.’
    • ‘I would therefore reduce his estimate of the value of the developable portion of part four from $860,000 to $800,000 to allow for future contingencies.’
    • ‘He said that generous provision had been made within the existing costs that would enable the council to deal with any possible contingencies.’
    • ‘It may be that the nature of the engagement was such that the interest that your Honour had was an interest in the future when the contingency occurred.’
    • ‘It need not be the optimal strategy in any future; it will, however, yield satisfactory outcomes in both easy-to-envision futures and hard-to-anticipate contingencies.’
    • ‘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?’
    • ‘I conclude that $100,000 is a fair amount to deduct as a contingency against future earnings by Stephanie during her lifetime.’
    • ‘This second approach, however, is complicated, because our missions in future contingencies will most often require offensive operations.’
    • ‘In these models, complexity seems to be the reason why unforeseen contingencies are possible.’
    • ‘The modern world has urbanized to an unprecedented degree, and it is inconceivable that future military contingencies will not involve urban operations.’
    • ‘It is hard to see how it is in their interest to stop, since they need the influence this money buys for future contingencies.’
    • ‘The actuarial valuation of a pension is based on a number of assumptions using statistics about future contingencies.’
    • ‘Our own forces cannot focus solely on future overseas contingencies, but also must defend bases and facilities both at home and abroad.’
    • ‘It enables the levy to be applied to petrol and any other category of fuel that may be prescribed by regulations, therefore providing for any future contingencies.’
    eventuality, incident, happening, occurrence, juncture, possibility, accident, chance, emergency
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    1. 1.1 A provision for an unforeseen event or circumstance.
      ‘a contingency reserve’
      • ‘And what contingencies are being planned should the war widen to other parts of the region?’
      • ‘Then it's just a matter of desperate fumbling and trusting to my contingency planning.’
      • ‘There had been no provision for contingencies and it was assumed that design fees and site works were in the original library estimates.’
      • ‘We briefed the game plan and contingencies, grabbed some chow, and walked to the flight deck to a pair of FA - 18s.’
      • ‘He said that in view of the prevailing drought conditions, the state Agriculture Department had prepared a contingency crop scheme.’
      • ‘For example, the uniformed service chiefs in past administrations have been deeply involved in developing war plans and other military contingencies.’
      • ‘If the provision of a contingency sum were normal practice, why would the Department of Health see the need to investigate the matter?’
      • ‘Blockades are considered and contingencies developed.’
      • ‘On a behavior-analytic view, teaching is the arrangement of contingencies of reinforcement that expedite learning.’
      • ‘Then I make a detailed plan with contingencies, strategies and coping methods.’
      • ‘And we're all actively planning contingencies right now and preparing for if this storm even brushes close to New Orleans.’
      • ‘Before the war in Afghanistan, that area was low on the list of major planning contingencies.’
      • ‘The Chinese government only has strategic oil reserve contingencies of 50 million barrels of oil - just 25 days supply.’
      • ‘The campaigner said the contingency engineering plan would offer a legally, economically and environmentally advantageous solution to the current route.’
      • ‘Cooperative members suggest that the Agriculture State Fund should subsidise the wheat purchase price, while the state contingency reserves should pay higher prices for wheat.’
      • ‘Also a small contingency of seats was reserved for emergencies.’
      • ‘This component exemplifies a rich schedule with weak contingencies.’
      • ‘The basic structure can be arranged so that these contingencies work for the good of the least fortunate.’
      • ‘In its contingency planning, such a force would anticipate issues of coordination with other countries and determine how its activities would be directed on the ground.’
      • ‘In the critical chain, management reserves (i.e., contingencies such as additional time and budget) are incorporated.’
      preparations, plans, planning, prearrangement, arrangements, precautions, precautionary measures, precautionary steps
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    2. 1.2 An incidental expense.
      ‘allow an extra fifteen percent in the budget for contingencies’
      • ‘Because there is a transaction that is occurring, the consequence of which is that the person induced to enter into the transaction is not exposed to a liability to pay money on a contingency.’
      • ‘But it's because we don't know that answer that we've tried to budget very cautiously and to provide for all reasonable contingencies.’
      • ‘If you break ground with every finish, every material, and every item specified, you still need a contingency budget.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The actuarial report does not take into account any general or specific contingencies, nor does it provide for a calculation of the loss of employment or pension benefits.’
      • ‘He also urged the government ‘to commit any unspent contingencies and any revenue windfalls to debt reduction.’’
      • ‘That, as it were, removes or deals with a critical contingency which would make compensation payable, but it is only the first step.’
      • ‘So one company found a way to book significant portions of disputed revenue before the contingencies were removed.’
      • ‘No matter whom you hire, your budget should include 10 percent for contingencies.’
      • ‘‘In every budget we have room for contingencies,’ she said.’
      • ‘The remaining money will be used for contingencies and on-going communication with the private and public sectors.’
      • ‘Review frequency depends on project time constraints, scale, and allocated budgetary contingencies.’
      • ‘If, for instance, a sum of money is payable on a contingency, there is no debt owing or accruing.’
      • ‘Consultants are jumping in and frightening boards of directors into covering every contingency at huge expense.’
      • ‘No, but the consequence of applying contingencies to more profitable restaurants is different from the consequence of applying contingencies to less profitable restaurants.’
      • ‘Another power industry executive says that his company will consider negotiating with contractors if it can get the contingency and risk money out of the project price.’
      • ‘From the news side perspective, the main tool for smoothing earnings was the contingency budget.’
      • ‘They provide a payout based on a contingency, charging a premium for the privilege.’
      • ‘This problem could be largely solved with emergency funds from the federal budget - a contingency provided for by the architects of the policy.’
    3. 1.3 The absence of certainty in events.
      ‘the island's public affairs can be invaded by contingency’
      • ‘The event was briefed, and every contingency was mapped out.’
      • ‘This he sees as the latest outworking of a history which involves a ‘collision between contingency and enduring tradition.’’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Yet, this same contingency is what leads to the organised liar's defeat, because lying can never be a substitute for the truth.’
      • ‘He made an art that was a net to catch contingency.’
      • ‘Apparently when the war plan was presented to the brass, they studied every detail, every contingency, every worst-case scenario, and signed off on it.’
      • ‘Simply, there is nothing to see ‘correctly’; there are only shifting webs of contingency.’
      • ‘Is history a tale of individual action and decision, of contingency, with vast consequences depending on who is on the spot and what they decide to do?’
      • ‘It covers every contingency and of course if investors do wait long enough the ‘good investment in the long term’ will probably sooner or later prove to have been right.’
      • ‘A space shuttle contingency has been declared in Mission Control as a result of the loss of communication with the Space Shuttle Columbia.’
      • ‘Buckingham uses contingency, the unfixing of meaning and the ephemeral as elements in his own labor process.’
      • ‘Factual truths don't even have any conclusive reason for being what they are, and they could always have been otherwise, i.e. they have unlimited contingency.’
      • ‘The value of wondering about life is not diminished thereby, but the big quest may amount to ‘confronting the fragility, unpredictability and contingency of life and doing the best we can with it’.’
      • ‘But at its best, especially in the fiction, there is a fantastic sense of energy, intellectual fearlessness, contingency, reckless dash.’
      • ‘The other is indignation at some historians' recourse to contingency and the counterfactual to unsettle old certainties.’
      • ‘Well, this does not really matter so much, for the only thing that matters is the free soul within, and that cannot be touched by any contingency.’
      • ‘Under the umbrella of religious or cultural norms, discrimination is promulgated through the delimitation of cultural contingency.’
      • ‘Most local headhunters operate on contingency, which means they do not charge or have commitment with the client until they offer the the right executive.’
      • ‘And cursed myself for not researching this contingency on the Internet.’
      • ‘For ethical reasons, it will be difficult if not impossible to create the true response-cost contingency presented to the gambler.’
    4. 1.4Philosophy The absence of necessity; the fact of being so without having to be so.
      • ‘Leibniz, in his discussion of contingency, had already recognized that existence is quite different from ordinary predicates.’
      • ‘What this paradox reveals is that Hegel's position on women is neither a product of contingency nor an effect of ad hoc prejudice.’
      • ‘But since contingency and necessity cannot coincide, the moving body has to be different from the principle or source of motion.’
      • ‘This may provide a way beyond the generalised extremes of homogeneity and heterogeneity in analysing the necessity and contingency in organisational forms of capital.’
      • ‘If biology is ruled by contingency rather than necessity then why do we find duplicated designs?’


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