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in mathematics: see probabilityprobability,
in mathematics, assignment of a number as a measure of the "chance" that a given event will occur. There are certain important restrictions on such a probability measure.
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The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.


  1. the PROBABILITYof an event, such as the occurrence of heads or tails on the toss of a coin.
  2. social or physical outcomes which are unforseen and perhaps inherently unpredictable.
Chance arises from the existence of physical or social processes which involve random events, a multiplicity of interacting variables in ‘open systems’ (including the changeability of actors' choices), and because actors’ intentions often have UNANTICIPATED CONSEQUENCES. While an inherent CONTINGENCY in social events is seen by some theorists as ruling out general theories, this neglects the availability of generalized ‘probabilistic’ accounts and the fact that it is the goal of general theories to abstract from particular events (and provide EXPLANATION or analytical frameworks), not necessarily to predict or control events.

Coping with chance in social life is a source of MAGIC and RELIGION and the basis of important leisure forms, including games of chance and GAMBLING. See also RISK SOCIETY.

Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000


See also Fate.
Charity (See GENEROSITY.)
Bridoison, Taiel de
judge who casts dice to decide cases. [Fr. Lit.: Pantagruel]
Fata Morgana
lake-dwelling sorceress and personification of chance. [Ital. Lit.: Orlando Innamorato]
goddess of chance. [Rom. Myth.: Kravitz, 58]
Jimmy the Greek
renowned American oddsmaker. [Am. Culture: Wallechinsky, 468]
Russian roulette
suicidal gamble involving a six-shooter, loaded with one bullet. [Folklore: Payton, 590]
god of chance. [Rom. Myth.: Espy, 42–43]
Three Princes of Serendip
always make discoveries by accident. [Br. Lit.: Three Princes of Serendip]
Urim and Thummin
oracular gems used for casting lots, set in Aaron’s breastplate. [O.T.: Exodus 28:30; Leviticus 8:8]
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
IN RECENT months, as Newcastle United have struggled to convert a hatful of chances across numerous matches, Toon fans have repeatedly posed the same question to one another: Why is Adam Armstrong still out on loan?
Mr Jones replied: "Indeed, that's why the structure needs change to strengthen the concept." Earlier Mr Jones told BBC Wales he felt a more pro-business message would help boost Labour's chances across the UK.
While Obama may have aided Udall's 2008 bid, he is widely seen as a drag on Democrats' chances across the country given his much lower approval ratings in 2014 compared with 2008.
oth d The last day both Punchestown and Cork shared a Sunday, Willie Mullins saddled an incredible seven-winners and, although holding some good chances across the two cards, his best chance of a winner outside the big race, may be Black Hercules in the concluding bumper.
For children who were babies during the prolonged slump, parents' toxic stress and reduced ability to afford quality food and health care may actually alter children's brain development, stunting their chances across their lifespan.
To boost Taiwan's presence there, BoFT confirmed that more business delegations to be headed by higher-level officials will be organized to explore business chances across the six ASEAN countries this year.