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contingency (plural contingencies)

  • 1. (uncountable) The quality of being contingent; unpredictability.
  • 2. (countable) A possibility; something which may or may not happen.
  • 3. (countable) An amount of money that will be paid if a project does not succeed.


  • a quality of being contingent; unpredictability
    • Finnish: epävarmuus, ennustamattomuus
  • a possibility; something which may or may not happen[Hide]
    • Finnish: mahdollinen tapahtuma
  • an amount of money that will be paid if a project does not succeed[Hide]
    • Finnish: sopimussakko
  • Japanese: 成功報酬 (seikō-hōshū) [1]

For lessons on the related topic of Chance, follow this link.


In philosophy and logic, contingency is the status of facts that are not logically necessarily true or false. Contingency is opposed to necessity: a contingent act is an act which could have not been, an act which is not necessary (could not have not been). Contingency differs from possibility, in a formal sense, as the latter includes statements which are necessarily true as well as not necessarily false, while a statement can not be said to be contingent if it is true necessarily.


In colloquial English, a contingency is something that can happen, but that generally is not anticipated. Planning for contingencies often requires a more imaginative approach, because contingencies are inherently not obvious. Large organizations, such as governments, are often criticized for not planning for contingencies because the construction of plans to deal with contingencies often involves thinking outside the box. Beforehand, contingencies are hard to predict; this failure to appreciate contingencies ahead of time has led to the formulation of Murphy's law. [2]


All that night Mary was restless so that neither of them slept much. By the break of day the pangs of childbirth were well in evidence, and at noon, August 21, 7 B.C., with the help and kind ministrations of women fellow travelers, Mary was delivered of a male child. Jesus of Nazareth was born into the world, was wrapped in the clothes which Mary had brought along for such a possible contingency, and laid in a near-by manger.[3]