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Alternative formsEdit


From Middle French instance, from Latin instantia (a being near, presence, also perseverance, earnestness, importunity, urgency), from instans (urgent); see instant.


  • IPA(key): /ˈɪnstəns/
  • (file)


instance (plural instances)

  1. (obsolete) Urgency of manner or words; an urgent request; insistence. [14th-19th c.]
  2. (obsolete) A token; a sign; a symptom or indication.
    It sends some precious instance of itself/ After the thing it loves. Hamlet IV. v. ca. 1602
  3. (obsolete) That which is urgent; motive.
  4. Occasion; order of occurrence.
    • (Can we date this quote by Sir M. Hale and provide title, author's full name, and other details?)
      These seem as if, in the time of Edward I., they were drawn up into the form of a law, in the first instance.
  5. A case offered as an exemplification or a precedent; an illustrative example. [from 16th c.]
    • (Can we date this quote by Atterbury and provide title, author's full name, and other details?)
      most remarkable instances of suffering
    • 1624, Democritus Junior [pseudonym; Robert Burton], The Anatomy of Melancholy: [], 2nd corrected and augmented edition, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Printed by John Lichfield and James Short, for Henry Cripps, OCLC 54573970:
      sometimes we love those that are absent, saith Philostratus, and gives instance in his friend Athenodorus, that loved a maid at Corinth whom he never saw []
  6. One of a series of recurring occasions, cases, essentially the same.
    • 2006, Robert Spaemann, Persons: The Difference Between 'someone' and 'something', page 115:
      One's own death is an 'accidental' event, simply another instance of the general rule that human beings die.
    • 2010, Kenneth Anderson, How to Change Your Drinking: a Harm Reduction Guide to Alcohol, page 59:
      If you choose to drink again the best way to avoid another instance of withdrawal is to avoid drinking two days in a row.
    • 2010, The Guardian, 11 Oct 2010:
      The organisations claim fraudsters are targeting properties belonging to both individuals and companies, in some instances using forged documents.
  7. (obsolete) A piece of evidence; a proof or sign (of something). [16th-18th c.]
    • c. 1594, William Shakespeare, The Comedy of Errors:
      The reason that I gather he is mad, Besides this present instance of his rage, Is a mad tale he told to day at dinner []
  8. (computing) A specific occurrence of something that is created or instantiated, such as a database, or an object of a class in object-oriented programming. [from 20th c.]
    • 2000, Dov Bulka, ‎David Mayhew, Efficient C++: Performance Programming Techniques (page 149)
      Some compilers will allow statics to be inlined, but then incorrectly create multiple instances of the inlined variable at run-time.
  9. (massively multiplayer online games) A dungeon or other area that is duplicated for each player, or each party of players, that enters it, so that each player or party has a private copy of the area, isolated from other players.
  10. (massively multiplayer online games) An individual copy of such a dungeon or other area.
    • 2005 January 11, Patrick B., "Re: Instance dungeons", in, Usenet:
      The instance is created for the group that enters it.
    • 2005 December 6, "Rene" (username), "Re: Does group leader affect drops?", in, Usenet:
      As soon as the first player enters (spawns) a new instance, it appears that the loottable is somehow chosen.
    • 2010, Anthony Steed & Manuel Fradinho Oliveira, Networked Graphics: Building Networked Games and Virtual Environments, Elsevier, →ISBN, page 398:
      A castle on the eastern edge of the island spawns a new instance whenever a party of players enters.

Derived termsEdit

Related termsEdit


See alsoEdit


instance (third-person singular simple present instances, present participle instancing, simple past and past participle instanced)

  1. (transitive) To mention as a case or example; to refer to; to cite
    to instance a fact
    • 1946, E. M. Butler, Rainer Maria Rilke, p. 404
      The poems which I have instanced are concrete and relatively glaring examples of the intangible difference which the change of language made in Rilke's visions .
  2. (intransitive) To cite an example as proof; to exemplify.





Etymology 1Edit

From Latin instantia


instance f (plural instances)

  1. (often in the plural) urgent demand, insistence, plea
  2. authority, forum, agency, body
  3. (law) legal proceedings, prosecution process
  4. (object-oriented programming) instance
Derived termsEdit

Etymology 2Edit

A derivative of etymology 1, but reborrowed from English.


instance f (plural instances)

  1. (computing) instance


Further readingEdit