circumstance


circumstance
circumstance
The debate about the merits of in the circumstances and under the circumstances continued for most of the 20c. The pedantic view is that since circumstances are, etymologically speaking, around (circum) us, we must be in them and not under them; but Fowler rightly rejected this argument as puerile and observed that under the circumstances ‘is neither illogical nor of recent invention (1665 in OED)’. The OED further noted that ‘mere situation is expressed by in the circumstances, action affected is performed under the circumstances’, a subtle distinction that is useful as a general guide but no more:

• Never, under any circumstances, solder connections to the tags with them already on the cartridge —Hi-Fi Sound, 1971

• As a writer, and collector of unusual information, I would be interested to hear from people who have seen the ‘little people’ or any strange, apparently non-human beings, under any circumstances whatever —Stornoway Gazette, 1973

• We understand that in normal circumstances we wouldn't be entitled to any money —radio transcript, AusE 2001 [OEC].

Choice is also affected by the presence of an adjective or other qualifier for circumstances: in present circumstances, in exceptional circumstances, under these circumstances, under no circumstances, etc., are all idiomatic constructions.

Modern English usage. 2014.

Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

  • circumstance — cir·cum·stance n 1 a: a condition, fact, or event accompanying, conditioning, or determining another the circumstance s constituting fraud or mistake shall be stated Federal Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 9(b) b: a piece of evidence that indicates …   Law dictionary

  • Circumstance — or circumstances can refer to: Rhetoric Circumstances (rhetoric) Legal terms Aggravating circumstance Attendant circumstance Exigent circumstance Extenuating circumstances Literature Circumstance (short story) Films Circumstance (film) Others… …   Wikipedia

  • circumstance — cir cum*stance (s[ e]r k[u^]m*st[a^]ns), n. [L. circumstantia, fr. circumstans, antis, p. pr. of circumstare to stand around; circum + stare to stand. See {Stand}.] 1. That which attends, or relates to, or in some way affects, a fact or event; an …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • circumstance — (n.) early 13c., conditions surrounding and accompanying an event, from O.Fr. circonstance circumstance, situation, also literally, outskirts (Mod.Fr. circonstance), from L. circumstantia surrounding condition, neut. pl. of circumstans (gen.… …   Etymology dictionary

  • circumstance — [sʉr′kəm stans΄, sʉr′kəmstəns] n. [OFr < L circumstantia, a standing around, condition < circumstare < circum, around + stare,STAND] 1. a fact or event accompanying another, either incidentally or as an essential condition or determining …   English World dictionary

  • circumstance — ► NOUN 1) a fact or condition connected with an event or action. 2) unforeseen events outside one s control: a victim of circumstance. 3) (circumstances) one s state of financial or material welfare. ● under (or in) the circumstances Cf. ↑under… …   English terms dictionary

  • Circumstance — Cir cum*stance, v. t. To place in a particular situation; to supply relative incidents. [1913 Webster] The poet took the matters of fact as they came down to him and circumstanced them, after his own manner. Addison. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • circumstance — *occurrence, event, incident, episode Analogous words: *item, detail, particular: factor, constituent, component, *element …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • circumstance — [n] situation, condition accident, action, adjunct, affair, article, case, cause, coincidence, concern, contingency, crisis, destiny, detail, doom, element, episode, event, exigency, fact, factor, fate, feature, fortuity, go, happening,… …   New thesaurus

  • circumstance — noun 1 (usually circumstances) facts/events that affect sth ADJECTIVE ▪ favourable/favorable ▪ The plan might work better with more favourable/favorable circumstances. ▪ adverse, difficult, dire, tra …   Collocations dictionary