adjective for·tu·itous \fr-ˈtü-ə-təs, -ˈtyü-, fər-\

: happening by chance

: having or showing good luck

Full Definition of FORTUITOUS

:  occurring by chance
a :  fortunate, lucky <from a cost standpoint, the company's timing is fortuitousBusiness Week>
b :  coming or happening by a lucky chance <belted down the stairs, and there was a fortuitous train — Doris Lessing>
for·tu·itous·ly adverb
for·tu·itous·ness noun

Usage Discussion of FORTUITOUS

Sense 2a has been influenced in meaning by fortunate. It has been in standard if not elevated use for some 70 years, but is still disdained by some critics. Sense 2b, a blend of 1 and 2a, is virtually unnoticed by the critics. Sense 1 is the only sense commonly used in negative constructions.

Examples of FORTUITOUS

  1. His presence there was entirely fortuitous.
  2. You could not have arrived at a more fortuitous time.
  3. … the intensification of competition on the job market has only exacerbated our class anxiety, as hiring seems all the more uncertain if not fortuitous. —Jeffrey J. Williams, College English, November 2003


Latin fortuitus; akin to Latin fort-, fors chance — more at fortune
First Known Use: 1653

Synonym Discussion of FORTUITOUS

accidental, fortuitous, casual, contingent mean not amenable to planning or prediction. accidental stresses chance <any resemblance to actual persons is entirely accidental>. fortuitous so strongly suggests chance that it often connotes entire absence of cause <a series of fortuitous events>. casual stresses lack of real or apparent premeditation or intent <a casual encounter with a stranger>. contingent suggests possibility of happening but stresses uncertainty and dependence on other future events for existence or occurrence <the contingent effects of the proposed law>.

Rhymes with FORTUITOUS


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