A circumstance is the condition in which something happens. Say you were at a business luncheon and you were accidentally fed psychedelic mushrooms in your ravioli, your boss might excuse the weird things you said, given the circumstance.

Circumstance comes from the Latin meaning the conditions around something. If you are born in a war zone, you're born into a difficult circumstance. If you're making decisions about awarding a scholarship to the most needy person, you'll need information about each candidate's circumstances. If you didn't do your homework because the power was out all night, tell your teacher that under the circumstance, you couldn't see well enough to read.

Definitions of circumstance
  1. noun
    the set of facts or circumstances that surround a situation or event
    synonyms: context, setting
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    the set of circumstances that affect someone's welfare
    the prevailing context that influences the performance or the outcome of a process
    type of:
    the totality of surrounding conditions
  2. noun
    a condition that accompanies or influences some event or activity
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    case, event
    a special set of circumstances
    a circumstance upon which subsequent events depend
    playing field
    the circumstances under which competition occurs
    type of:
    condition, status
    a state at a particular time
  3. noun
    information that should be kept in mind when making a decision
    synonyms: condition, consideration
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    something (such as a fact or circumstance) that shows an action to be reasonable or necessary
    mitigating circumstance
    (law) a circumstance that does not exonerate a person but which reduces the penalty associated with the offense
    type of:
    knowledge acquired through study or experience or instruction
  4. noun
    formal ceremony about important occasions
    “pomp and circumstance
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    type of:
    ceremonial, ceremonial occasion, ceremony, observance
    a formal event performed on a special occasion
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