1. a case or occurrence of anything: fresh instances of oppression.
  2. an example put forth in proof or illustration: to cite a few instances.
  3. Law. the institution and prosecution of a case.
  4. Archaic. urgency in speech or action.
  5. Obsolete. an impelling motive.

verb (used with object), in·stanced, in·stanc·ing.

  1. to cite as an instance or example.
  2. to exemplify by an instance.

verb (used without object), in·stanced, in·stanc·ing.

  1. to cite an instance.
  1. at the instance of, at the urging or suggestion of: He applied for the assistantship at the instance of his professor.
  2. for instance, as an example; for example: If you were to go to Italy, for instance, you would get a different perspective on our culture.


  1. a case or particular example
  2. for instance for or as an example
  3. a specified stage in proceedings; step (in the phrases in the first, second, etc, instance)
  4. urgent request or demand (esp in the phrase at the instance of)
  5. logic
    1. an expression derived from another by instantiation
    2. See substitution (def. 4b)
  6. archaic motive or reason

verb (tr)

  1. to cite as an example

mid-14c., “urgency,” from Old French instance “eagerness, anxiety, solicitation” (13c.), from Latin instantia “presence, effort intention; earnestness, urgency,” literally “a standing near,” from instans (see instant). In Scholastic logic, “a fact or example” (early 15c.), from Medieval Latin instantia, used to translate Greek enstasis. This led to use in phrase for instance “as an example” (1650s), and the noun phrase To give (someone) a for instance (1953, American English).

see under for example.

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