An example that is cited to prove or invalidate a contention or illustrate a point. See Synonyms at example. A case or an occurrence: In all such instances, let conscience be your guide. Law A legal proceeding or process; a suit. A step in a process or series of events: You should apply in the first instance to the personnel manager. A suggestion or request: called at the instance of his attorney. Archaic Urgent solicitation. Obsolete An impelling motive. To offer as an example; cite. To demonstrate or show by an example; exemplify. for instance As an example; for example.