1. Liable but not certain to occur; possible: "All salaries are reckoned on contingent as well as on actual services" (Ralph Waldo Emerson).
2. Dependent on other conditions or circumstances; conditional: arms sales contingent on the approval of Congress. See Synonyms at dependent.
3. Happening by or subject to chance or accident; unpredictable: contingent developments that jeopardized the negotiations. See Synonyms at accidental.
4. Logic True only under certain conditions; not necessarily or universally true: a contingent proposition.
a. A group or detachment, as of troops or police, assigned to aid a larger force.
b. A representative group that is selected from or part of a larger group.
2. An event or condition that is likely but not inevitable.
[Middle English, from Latin contingēns, contingent-, present participle of contingere, to touch; see CONTACT.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. 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.