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 (ŏp′ər-to͞o′nĭ-tē, -tyo͞o′-)n. pl. op·por·tu·ni·ties

1. A favorable or advantageous circumstance or combination of circumstances.

2. A chance for progress or advancement, as in a career.

Synonyms: opportunity, occasion, opening, chance, break
These nouns refer to a favorable or advantageous circumstance or combination of circumstances. Opportunity is a favorable state of affairs or a suitable time: “If you prepare yourself … you will be able to grasp opportunity for broader experience when it appears” (Eleanor Roosevelt).
Occasion suggests the proper time for an action or purpose: “The celebration of the New Year is an occasion for optimism and hope” (Bill Clinton).
An opening is an opportunity affording a good possibility of success: She waited patiently for her opening, then proved she was ready to lead the group.
Chance often implies an opportunity that arises through luck or accident: Meeting each other at the coffee shop was a chance for us to chat.
A break is an often sudden piece of luck, especially good luck: The aspiring actor got his first big break in Hollywood.

American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


(ˌɒpəˈtjuːnɪtɪ) n, pl -ties

1. a favourable, appropriate, or advantageous combination of circumstances

2. a chance or prospect

Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014


(ˌɒp ərˈtu nɪ ti, -ˈtyu-)

n., pl. -ties.

1. an appropriate or favorable time or occasion.

2. a situation or condition favorable for attainment of a goal.

3. a good chance or prospect, as for success.

Random House Kernerman Webster’s College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.


– opportunity – chance1. ‘occasion’

An occasion is a particular time when something happens.

I remember the occasion very well.

There are occasions when you must refuse.

You often say that something happens on a particular occasion.

I think it would be better if I went alone on this occasion.

I met him only on one occasion.

An occasion is also an important event, ceremony, or celebration.

It was a wonderful end to an unforgettable occasion.

They have fixed the date for the big occasion.

2. ‘opportunity’ and ‘chance’

Don’t use occasion to refer to a situation in which it is possible for someone to do something. Instead, use opportunity or chance.

I am very grateful to have had the opportunity of working with Paul.

She put the phone down before I had a chance to reply.


1. ‘opportunity’

An opportunity is a situation in which it is possible for something to be done. You talk about an opportunity for something or an opportunity to do something.

They must regard it as an opportunity for a genuine new start.

They don’t even give them the opportunity to become better.

You can also talk about an opportunity for doing something, especially if you use an adjective such as perfect or excellent in front of opportunity.

This was a marvellous opportunity for exchanging gossip with the other girls.

This provides an excellent opportunity for bird-watching.

You can also talk about the opportunity of doing something.

This gave him the opportunity of developing his talent as a teacher.

2. ‘no opportunity’

You can say there is no opportunity to do something.

I suppose you had no opportunity to bring it.

For some reason he had had no opportunity to eat the day before.

3. ‘chance’

Chance is used in a similar way to opportunity.


– opportunity1. ‘possibility’

If there is a possibility of something happening or being true, it might happen or be true.

There was a possibility that they had taken the wrong road.

We must accept the possibility that we might be wrong.

If there is no possibility of something happening or being true, it cannot happen or be true.

There was now no possibility of success.

There is no possibility that he did that accidentally.

If you talk or think about the possibility of doing something, you are considering whether to do it.

He talked about the possibility of getting married.

Be Careful!
Don’t say ‘He talked about the possibility to get married.’

2. ‘opportunity’

When a situation makes it possible for someone to do something, don’t say that they have ‘the possibility to do’ it. Say that they have the opportunity to do it or the opportunity of doing it.

You will have the opportunity to study several different subjects in your first year.

Sadly, I never had the opportunity of meeting him.

Collins COBUILD English Usage © HarperCollins Publishers 1992, 2004, 2011, 2012

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