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Contingency refers to an event that might or might not occur but that, nevertheless, must still be prepared for because there is a good chance that it could happen (sentences 1-4). In its adjective form—contingent—it can also describe an event or events that are totally dependent upon other events happening first (sentence 5).
Link the word contingency to the visual image of a fire escape, which is the physical embodiment of a contingency plan for a fire.
You might also link the sounds of the last two syllables of contingency to the word emergency.
Then link both words together into a sentence that you say aloud,
"A difficult situation is less likely to turn into an emergency if those involved have considered every imaginable contingency beforehand."
Photo on the left courtesy of Savraj, who has graciously made it part of the public domain.
Specialized Use in Law and Accounting. Sometimes lawyers and accountants work on the basis of a contingency fee. In other words, their getting paid is contingent upon their client getting paid. Many lawyers representing people who have suffered injuries due to accidents work on the basis of a contingency fee. If the accident victim wins his or her lawsuit, then the lawyer gets a portion of the winnings. However, if the victim doesn't win the lawsuit, the lawyer doesn't get paid. Some accountants, a very few, will also conduct an audit on the basis of a contingency fee.
1. Which of the following sentences uses contingency correctly?
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Last update of this page: April 1, 2014