op·por·tu·ni·ty (ŏp′ər-tnĭ-tē, -ty-)
n. pl. op·por·tu·ni·ties
1. A favorable or advantageous circumstance or combination of circumstances.
2. A chance for progress or advancement, as in a career.
Synonyms: opportunity, occasion, opening, chance, break
These nouns refer to a favorable or advantageous circumstance or combination of circumstances. Opportunity is a favorable state of affairs or a suitable time: "If you prepare yourself ... you will be able to grasp opportunity for broader experience when it appears" (Eleanor Roosevelt).
Occasion suggests the proper time for an action or purpose: "The celebration of the New Year is an occasion for optimism and hope" (Bill Clinton).
An opening is an opportunity affording a good possibility of success: She waited patiently for her opening, then proved she was ready to lead the group.
Chance often implies an opportunity that arises through luck or accident: Meeting each other at the coffee shop was a chance for us to chat.
A break is an often sudden piece of luck, especially good luck: The aspiring actor got his first big break in Hollywood.
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.