Contingency vs contingent

Photo of author


Contingency and contingent are two words that are often confused. We will examine the difference between the meanings of the words contingency and contingent, where these two words came from and some examples of their use in sentences.

A contingency describes an event, condition or plan that may happen in the future but it is not certain that it will happen. Contingency also means a provision for a possibility, a plan for something that might happen. Contingency might mean incidental expense. Contingency is used as a noun or as a noun adjunct, which is a noun that is used as an adjective to modify another noun. The plural form is contingencies.

Contingent means conditional, dependent on chance, occuring dependent on circumstance. When used in this sense, contingent is an adjective. When used as a noun, contingent means a group of military people or police, or a group of people of a certain characteristic within a larger group. For instance, an American national political convention is comprised of contingents of delegates from each state. The plural form is contingents. The words contingent and contingency are derived from the Latin word contingentem, which means touching or happening.


A utility planning to build two nuclear power reactors in South Carolina said Thursday that it was drawing up contingency plans in case its contractor, a subsidiary of Toshiba Corp., cannot finish the job. (The Wall Street Journal)

As per the National Oil Spill Disaster Contingency Plan, while the port is responsible for responding to an oil spill within the port area, the Coast Guard is the Central Coordinating Agency for combating oil pollution in the maritime zone and the State Governments for shoreline response. (The New Indian Express)

“We would like to have a certain contingent of officers dedicated to that area,” he continued. (The Everett Independent)

He said Trump could confer with each of the three Supreme Court Justices most likely to retire – Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Anthony Kennedy or Stephen Breyer – and after learning of their plans, ask one of them to submit a resignation contingent on Garland’s nomination and confirmation as a replacement. (The Albuquerque Journal)