1. A condition or fact attending an event and having some bearing on it; a determining or modifying factor: set out a day early because of favorable circumstances.
2. The sum of determining factors beyond willful control: a victim of circumstance.
3. circumstances Financial status or means: "Prior came of a good family, much reduced in circumstances" (George Sherburn).
4. Formal display; ceremony: the pomp and circumstance of a coronation.
5. A particular incident or occurrence: Your arrival was a fortunate circumstance.
tr.v. cir·cum·stanced, cir·cum·stanc·ing, cir·cum·stanc·esIdioms:
To place in particular circumstances or conditions; situate.
under no circumstances
In no case; never.
under/in the circumstances
Given these conditions; such being the case.
[Middle English, from Old French circonstance, from Latin circumstantia, from circumstāns, circumstant-, present participle of circumstāre, to stand around : circum-, circum- + stāre, to stand; see stā- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.