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Dr. Goodword
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Postby Dr. Goodword » Tue Mar 26, 2013 9:09 pm

• circumstance •

Pronunciation: sêr-kêm-stæns • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. Contributing or determining factor, factor(s) surrounding a particular event, as to be a victim of circumstances. 2. Financial means, as a person of substantial circumstances. 3. Celebratory ceremony, as in pomp and circumstance.

Notes: We have to treat the grammatical number of today's Good Word carefully. The second sense is almost always used in the plural. The third sense is never used in the plural, as the example there demonstrates. The adjective accompanying this word is circumstantial. It has a specific meaning in a court of law: "not definitive or conclusive", as is circumstantial evidence.

In Play: The first sense is the one most widely used: "What were the circumstances leading up to your being grounded for a month?" The second sense is much less often heard or read: "Jason was born into a noble family of reduced circumstances." The third sense is almost never heard except in the phrase pomp and circumstance: "Gladys Friday was promoted to sales manager without an inkling of circumstance."

Word History: Today's Good Word originated as Old French circonstance "circumstance, situation", inherited from Latin circumstantia "surrounding condition". This word came from the present participle of circumstare "to surround, encompass, occupy". Circumstare is a compound verb comprising circum "around" + stare "to stand". The same root ended up in English as stand, steed, stage, and stalwart, among others. Circum was borrowed from Greek kirkos "ring" by the Romans. They not only borrowed this word as an adverb and preposition, but as a noun, too: circus "circus, circle". Since Roman arenas were circular (or oval) like circus tents in England and the US, English picked up that one, too. (We are happy that circumstances allowed Norman Holler to step forward and suggest today's very Good Word.)
• The Good Dr. Goodword

Perry Lassiter
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Postby Perry Lassiter » Tue Mar 26, 2013 10:02 pm

The word as defined above is singular. But don't we often use it in the plural to mean under these conditions or in this situation?

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Postby Philip Hudson » Wed Mar 27, 2013 12:20 am

Many of us were graduated from various schools when Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance March Number 1 was being played. There is no more noble processional music.
It is dark at night, but the Sun will come up and then we can see.

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Postby MTC » Wed Mar 27, 2013 7:06 am

Let me supplement without pomp Dr. G's definition of circumstantial evidence:

Circumstantial Evidence is also known as indirect evidence. It is distinguished from direct evidence, which, if believed, proves the existence of a particular fact without any inference or presumption required. Circumstantial evidence relates to a series of facts other than the particular fact sought to be proved. The party offering circumstantial evidence argues that this series of facts, by reason and experience, is so closely associated with the fact to be proved that the fact to be proved may be inferred simply from the existence of the circumstantial evidence.

The following examples illustrate the difference between direct and circumstantial evidence: If John testifies that he saw Tom raise a gun and fire it at Ann and that Ann then fell to the ground, John's testimony is direct evidence that Tom shot Ann. If the jury believes John's testimony, then it must conclude that Tom did in fact shoot Ann. If, however, John testifies that he saw Tom and Ann go into another room and that he heard Tom say to Ann that he was going to shoot her, heard a shot, and saw Tom leave the room with a smoking gun, then John's testimony is circumstantial evidence from which it can be inferred that Tom shot Ann. The jury must determine whether John's testimony is credible.

(http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictiona ... l+Evidence)

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Postby LukeJavan8 » Wed Mar 27, 2013 11:21 am

Ah, Elgar, he had a number of "Pomp"s.
-----please, draw me a sheep-----

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