Contingent is a conjugation of the verb subordinate, whose etymological origin is found in the Latin language (suppeditāre). To subordinate, for its part, refers to the act of achieving subordination, the domain wave subjection from one thing to something different.

For instance: “The act is subject to weather conditions”, “The government warned that the payment of the bonds is subject to the decision judicial”, “The coach had made Gomez’s return to the team contingent on the player making a public apology to his teammates, something he finally did last night”.


The subordinate is conditioned on something else.

A conditioning

It can be said, therefore, that subordinating an action implies condition it: it is only realized if something else is fulfilled. Suppose a club plan to host an outdoor event. The organizers, given the possibility of rainfall that day, make the decision to subject the event to the weather, since if it rains while the activities are carried out there will be various inconveniences. Therefore, the club event is subject to weather factors.

An international organization, for its part, may make financial assistance subject to a country to certain economic laws that the government should enact if it intends to receive support. The aid, in this way, is subject to the government’s decision to promote, or not, the laws requested by the international organization. If these laws are enacted, the country will receive the aid; otherwise not.

In the daily life, many things are contingent: the realization of a trip it can be subject to the organization of the agenda, the purchase of a car can be subject to the collection of an inheritance, etc.


The development of an event may be subject to weather conditions.

The subordinate and domination

It is important to note that the relationship established between both parties is one of relative domination, although it is not active or direct, since the actions of one of them depend on the other. If we say that «The launching of a program is subject to the Council directive”, we have a dominant part that is actively subordinate to the other, whereas in the case of a trip or an event that depends on time there is no intention.

In any case, what is subordinate is always located in a lower hierarchical degree, since its realization is not guaranteed, while the existence of the other party is. This can be appreciated by studying some of the most common synonyms of the verb subordinate, since they denote the priority of one thing over the other: depend, subordinate, relegate, postpone and condition, all demonstrate that the balance is clearly tilted in a sense.

Similar concepts

Other synonyms that can help us understand this lack of balance are the following: abide, gird, submit and abide. In this case, these four words are located in the perspective of the object that has been subject, since it is this that must abide by the terms on the other side, to adhere to, submit to, or abide by them.

Having said all this, we must clarify that the participle contingent does not always point to unfair or unfair relationships BalanceIt can also be used to highlight the importance of observing before acting. For example, art throughout history shows in general that color has always been subject to form, a statement that can be understood as the search for balance by adding color to an already defined form, something that is opposed to what we define in the previous paragraphs.

Here we do not speak of a greater importance, but of a respect for the characteristics of the form to give it the color it needs. If we look at it this way, we also note that avoiding an outdoor activity because of the rain does not indicate that the weather is more important than the event, but we want to protect the people who would have participated and the material objects that would have been exposed to water, for example.