Meaning of CHANCE in English


I. chance 1 S1 W1 /tʃɑːns $ tʃæns/ BrE AmE noun

[ Date: 1200-1300 ; Language: Old French ; Origin: Vulgar Latin cadentia 'fall' , from Latin cadere 'to fall' ]

1 . POSSIBILITY [uncountable and countable] the possibility that something will happen, especially something you want:

There’s always the chance that something will go wrong.

chance of

What are the team’s chances of success?

If we did move to London, I’d stand a much better chance (=have a much better chance) of getting a job.

There is little chance of her being found alive.

Chances are (=it is likely that) you’ll be fine.

2 . OPPORTUNITY [countable] a time or situation which you can use to do something that you want to do SYN opportunity

chance to do something

Ralph was waiting for a chance to introduce himself.

chance of

our only chance of escape

I’m sorry, I haven’t had a chance to look at it yet.

If someone invited me over to Florida, I’d jump at the chance (=use the opportunity eagerly) .

3 . RISK take a chance to do something that involves risks:

The rope might break, but that’s a chance we’ll have to take.

After losing $20,000 on my last business venture, I’m not taking any chances this time.

take a chance on

He was taking a chance on a relatively new young actor.

He decided to take his chances in the boat.

4 . LIKELY TO SUCCEED sb’s chances how likely it is that someone will succeed:

Ryan will be a candidate in next month’s elections, but his chances are not good.

sb’s chances of doing something

England’s chances of winning the series have all but disappeared.

not fancy/not rate sb’s chances British English (=think someone is unlikely to succeed)

I don’t fancy their chances against Brazil.

► Do not say ‘someone’s chances to do something’. Say someone’s chances of doing something .

5 . LUCK [uncountable] the way some things happen without being planned or caused by people ⇨ fate

by chance

I bumped into her quite by chance in Oxford Street.

leave something to chance (=to not plan something but just hope that everything will happen as intended)

Dave had thought of every possibility, he was leaving nothing to chance.

pure/sheer/blind chance (=not at all planned)

It was pure chance that they ended up working in the same office in the same town.

As chance would have it, the one time I wanted to see her, she wasn’t in.

6 . by any chance spoken used to ask politely whether something is true:

Are you Mrs Grant, by any chance?

7 . any chance of ...? spoken used to ask whether you can have something or whether something is possible:

Any chance of a cup of coffee?

Any chance of you coming to the party on Saturday?

8 . be in with a chance if a competitor is in with a chance, it is possible that they will win:

I think we’re in with a good chance of beating them.

9 . no chance!/fat chance! spoken used to emphasize that you are sure something could never happen:

‘Maybe your brother would lend you the money?’ ‘Huh, fat chance!’

10 . on the off chance if you do something on the off chance, you do it hoping for a particular result, although you know it is not likely:

I didn’t really expect her to be at home. I just called on the off chance.

⇨ ↑ off-chance

11 . chance would be a fine thing! British English spoken used to mean that the thing you want to happen is very unlikely:

‘Do you think you’ll get married?’ ‘Chance would be a fine thing!’

⇨ game of chance at ↑ game 1 (15)

• • •

COLLOCATIONS (for Meaning 1)

■ verbs

▪ have/stand a chance (of something) (=it is possible you will do it)

I think you have a good chance of getting the job.

▪ give somebody a chance of doing something (=say how likely it is that they will do it)

He has been given a fifty-fifty chance of being fit for Sunday’s match.

▪ increase the chance of something

Certain foods increase the chance of heart disease.

▪ improve the chance of something

The book shows you how to improve your chance of success.

▪ reduce/lessen the chance of something

The talks were aimed at reducing the chance of war.

▪ ruin any chance of something (=make it impossible for something to happen)

Drinking alcohol can ruin any chance of weight loss.

▪ jeopardize any chance of something (=make something less likely to happen)

This could jeopardize any chance of a ceasefire.

■ adjectives

▪ a good chance (=when something is likely)

I think there is a good chance that he will say yes.

▪ every chance (=a good chance)

There’s every chance that the baby will survive.

▪ some chance

There’s some chance of snow later this week.

▪ a small/slight/slim chance

He only has a very small chance of being elected.


There’s a slight chance of some sunshine in the west.

▪ no/little/not much chance

The prisoners knew there was little chance of escape.

▪ a one in three/four/ten etc chance (=used to say how likely something is)

People in their 30s have a one in 3,000 chance of getting the disease.

▪ a fair chance (=a fairly good chance)

If you work, you have a fair chance of passing the test.

▪ a sporting chance (=a fairly good chance)

The proposals had at least a sporting chance of being accepted.

▪ a fighting chance (=a small but real chance)

The Republican Party has a fighting chance at the next election.

▪ a fifty-fifty chance (=an equal chance that something will or will not happen)

I’d say there is a 50–50 chance that the deal will go through.

▪ an outside/a remote chance (=a very small chance)

He still has an outside chance of winning the championship.

▪ a million-to-one chance/a one in a million chance (=when something is extremely unlikely)

It must have been a million-to-one chance that we’d meet.

• • •

COLLOCATIONS (for Meaning 2)

■ verbs

▪ get/have a chance to do something

I’d like a job in which I get the chance to travel.

▪ give somebody/offer/provide a chance

I was given the chance to play the main part in the play.


Sport provides a chance for you to get outside with friends.

▪ take a chance (=accept an opportunity)

If I was offered the chance to be in the team, I’d take it.

▪ jump at a chance (=use an opportunity eagerly)

Ed jumped at the chance to earn some extra money.

▪ grab/seize a chance (=quickly use an opportunity)

As soon as she stopped speaking, I grabbed the chance to leave.

▪ miss/lose a chance (=not use an opportunity)

He missed a chance to score just before half time.

▪ throw away/pass up/turn down a chance (=not accept or use an opportunity)

Imagine throwing up a chance to go to America!

▪ welcome the chance to do something

I’d welcome the chance to discuss the problem with someone.

▪ deserve a chance

Every kid deserves a chance in life.

▪ blow a chance informal (=have a special opportunity and fail to use it)

He thought he’d blown his chance of happiness.

■ adjectives

▪ a second chance/another chance

The interview went badly, so I didn’t think they would give me a second chance.

▪ sb’s last chance

This is my last chance to try and pass the exam.

■ phrases

▪ the chance of a lifetime (=one that you are very unlikely to have again)

If you don’t decide soon, you’ll have missed the chance of a lifetime.

▪ now’s your chance spoken (=you have the opportunity to do something now)

You’re not working so now’s your chance to write a book.

▪ given the chance/given half a chance (=if there is an opportunity to do something)

Goats will eat anything, given half a chance.

• • •


▪ luck noun [uncountable] when good or bad things happen to people by chance:

The game involves an element of luck as well as skill.

▪ chance noun [uncountable] the way that some things happen without being planned or caused by people:

I met her by chance on a plane to Tokyo.


Like all top athletes, he leaves nothing to chance, and trains harder than anybody.

▪ fortune noun [uncountable] luck and the effect it has on your life:

I had the good fortune to work with some great people.


The tour was dogged by ill fortune (=it had a lot of bad luck) from the start.


Fortune has shone on the team so far this season (=they have been lucky) .

▪ fate noun [uncountable] a power that some people believe controls what happens to people and which cannot be changed or stopped:

Fate dealt him a cruel blow with the death of his wife at the age of 32.


It must have been fate that brought them together, and fate that tore them apart.


We can’t just leave it to fate.

▪ providence noun [uncountable] a power which some people believe controls what happens in our lives and protects us:

Do you believe in divine providence (=God’s power to make things happen) ?


Her life was mapped out for her by providence.

▪ fluke noun [countable usually singular] informal something good that happens because of luck:

Their second goal was a fluke.


They won by a fluke.

II. chance 2 BrE AmE verb

1 . [transitive] to do something that you know involves a risk:

I wasn’t sure if I’d got quite enough petrol to get me home, but I decided to chance it.

We decided not to chance our luck in the storm.

She’d never played before, but she was ready to chance her arm (=take a risk by doing something which may fail) .

chance doing something

I decided to stay where I was. I couldn’t chance being seen.

2 . [intransitive] literary to happen in a way which is not expected and not planned

chance to do something

She chanced to be passing when I came out of the house.

It chanced that we both went to Paris that year.

chance on/upon/across somebody/something phrasal verb formal

to find something or meet someone when you are not expecting to:

Henry chanced upon some valuable coins in the attic.

III. chance 3 BrE AmE adjective [only before noun]

not planned or expected SYN accidental

chance meeting/encounter/event etc

A chance meeting with a journalist changed everything.

A chance remark by one of his colleagues got him thinking.

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.