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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?)
      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?)
      most remarkable instances of suffering
    • 1621, Democritus Junior [pseudonym; Robert Burton], The Anatomy of Melancholy, Oxford: Printed by Iohn Lichfield and Iames Short, for Henry Cripps, OCLC 216894069; The Anatomy of Melancholy: [], 2nd corrected and augmented edition, Oxford: Printed by John Lichfield and James Short, for Henry Cripps, 1624, OCLC 54573970, (please specify |partition=1, 2, or 3):
      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) In object-oriented programming: a created object, one that has had memory allocated for local data storage; an instantiation of a class. [from 20th c.]
  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