Occasion means something special––that happens seldom or is notable when it does. On occasion, we sit down together as a family, but not every day, and never for dinner. When Great Aunt Mabel visits, however, we rise to the occasion and stage a large family meal.

Occasion can also mean a designated time or reason something happens, or it can be an event in itself. I'm giving you your grandmother's ring on the occasion of your graduation from high school. I haven't had occasion to look at it since she died. It's valuable, so only wear it on special occasions.

Definitions of occasion
  1. noun
    an event that occurs at a critical time
    “it was needed only on special occasions
    synonyms: juncture
    see moresee less
    show 10 types...
    hide 10 types...
    climax, flood tide
    the highest point of anything conceived of as growing or developing or unfolding
    a critical combination of events or circumstances
    a crucial stage or turning point in the course of something
    landmark, turning point, watershed
    an event marking a unique or important historical change of course or one on which important developments depend
    a significant event in your life (or in a project)
    head, pass, straits
    a difficult juncture
    reality check
    an occasion on which one is reminded of the nature of things in the real world
    emergency, exigency, pinch
    a sudden unforeseen crisis (usually involving danger) that requires immediate action
    Fall of Man
    (Judeo-Christian mythology) when Adam and Eve ate of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden, God punished them by driving them out of the Garden of Eden and into the world where they would be subject to sickness and pain and eventual death
    road to Damascus
    a sudden turning point in a person's life (similar to the sudden conversion of the Apostle Paul on the road from Jerusalem to Damascus of arrest Christians)
    type of:
    happening, natural event, occurrence, occurrent
    an event that happens
  2. noun
    a vaguely specified social event
    “an occasion arranged to honor the president”
    synonyms: affair, function, social function, social occasion
    see moresee less
    show 31 types...
    hide 31 types...
    an occasion on which people can assemble for social interaction and entertainment
    celebration, jubilation
    a joyful occasion for special festivities to mark some happy event
    ceremonial, ceremonial occasion, ceremony, observance
    a formal event performed on a special occasion
    a social function that is held for the purpose of raising money
    photo op, photo opportunity
    an occasion that lends itself to (or is deliberately arranged for) taking photographs that provide favorable publicity for those who are photographed
    an occasion of spending a night away from home or having a guest spend the night in your home (especially as a party for children)
    bash, brawl, do
    an uproarious party
    birthday party
    a party held on the anniversary of someone's birth
    bun-fight, bunfight
    (Briticism) a grand formal party on an important occasion
    an informal social gathering at which there is Scottish or Irish folk music and singing and folk dancing and story telling
    cocktail party
    an afternoon party at which cocktails are served
    a party for social dancing
    feast, fete, fiesta
    an elaborate party (often outdoors)
    house party
    a party lasting over one or more nights at a large house
    a happy party
    tea party
    a party at which tea is served
    whist drive
    a progressive whist party
    formal ceremony about important occasions
    a ceremony at which a dead person is buried or cremated
    hymeneals, nuptials, wedding, wedding ceremony
    the social event at which the ceremony of marriage is performed
    pageant, pageantry
    a rich and spectacular ceremony
    a ceremony in which something (as a building) is dedicated to some goal or purpose
    a ceremony accompanying the start of some enterprise
    commemoration, memorialisation, memorialization
    a ceremony to honor the memory of someone or something
    military ceremony
    a formal ceremony performed by military personnel
    induction, initiation, installation
    a formal entry into an organization or position or office
    (usually plural) a ceremony that involves processions and speeches
    fire walking
    the ceremony of walking barefoot over hot stones or a bed of embers
    formalities, formality
    a requirement of etiquette or custom
    a public ceremony on Maundy Thursday when the monarch distributes Maundy money
    a ceremonial feast held by some Indians of the northwestern coast of North America (as in celebrating a marriage or a new accession) in which the host gives gifts to tribesmen and others to display his superior wealth (sometimes, formerly, to his own impoverishment)
    type of:
    social event
    an event characteristic of persons forming groups
  3. noun
    the time of a particular event
    “on the occasion of his 60th birthday”
    see moresee less
    any of the occasions for eating food that occur by custom or habit at more or less fixed times
    type of:
    a suitable moment
  4. noun
    an opportunity to do something
    “there was never an occasion for her to demonstrate her skill”
    see moresee less
    show 13 types...
    hide 13 types...
    cut-rate sale, sale, sales event
    an occasion (usually brief) for buying at specially reduced prices
    bazaar, fair
    a sale of miscellany; often for charity
    boot sale, car boot sale
    an outdoor sale at which people sell things from the trunk of their car
    clearance sale, inventory-clearance sale
    a sale to reduce inventory
    a sale intended to dispose of all remaining stock
    fire sale
    a sale of merchandise supposedly damaged by fire
    fire sale
    a sale of assets at very low prices typically when the seller faces bankruptcy
    garage sale, yard sale
    an outdoor sale of used personal or household items held on the seller's premises
    going-out-of-business sale
    a sale of all the tangible assets of a business that is about to close
    realisation, realization
    a sale in order to obtain money (as a sale of stock or a sale of the estate of a bankrupt person) or the money so obtained
    jumble sale, rummage sale
    a sale of donated articles
    a sale of a relatively large number of assets (stocks or bonds or commodities) at a low price typically done to dispose of them rather than as normal trade
    white sale
    a sale of household linens
    type of:
    chance, opportunity
    a possibility due to a favorable combination of circumstances
  5. noun
    a reason
    “there was no occasion for complaint”
    see moresee less
    type of:
    ground, reason
    a rational motive for a belief or action
  6. verb
    give occasion to
    see moresee less
    supply the inspiration for
    type of:
    cause, do, make
    give rise to; cause to happen or occur, not always intentionally
Word Family

Test prep from the experts

Boost your test score with programs developed by’s experts.

  • Proven methods: Learn faster, remember longer with our scientific approach.
  • Personalized plan: We customize your experience to maximize your learning.
  • Strategic studying: Focus on the words that are most crucial for success.


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 8 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 10 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 700+
  • Duration: 10 weeks
  • Time: 1 hour / week