Simple Definition of fortuitous
: happening by chance
: having or showing good luck
Full Definition of fortuitous
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 in a sentence
… 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
… he is a brilliant candidate not despite his anti-intellectualism but because of it. He has stumbled upon a fortuitous moment in which the political culture, tired of wonks and pointy-heads and ideologues, yearns instead for a candidate unburdened by, or even hostile to, ideas. —Jonathan Chait, New Republic, 20 Dec. 1999
Her $170, 000 bid on what is now Matanzas Creek's vineyard was accepted. The south-facing slope was a fortuitous find … its worth more than 10 times as much today. —Jeff Morgan, Wine Spectator, 15 May 1996
His presence there was entirely fortuitous.
You could not have arrived at a more fortuitous time.
Did You Know?
For some 250 years, until the early part of the 20th century, "fortuitous" meant one thing only: "happening by chance." This was no accident; its Latin forebear, fortuitus, derives from the same ancient root as the Latin word for "chance," which is "fors." But the fact that "fortuitous" sounds like a blend of "fortunate" and "felicitous" (meaning "happily suited to an occasion") may have been what ultimately led to a second meaning: "fortunate." That use has been disparaged by critics, but it is now well established. Perhaps the seeds of the newer sense were planted by earlier writers applying overtones of good fortune to something that is a chance occurrence. In fact, today we quite often apply "fortuitous" to something that is a chance occurrence but has a favorable result.
Origin of fortuitous
Latin fortuitus; akin to Latin fort-, fors chance — more at fortune
First Known Use: 1653
Synonym Discussion of fortuitous
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up fortuitous? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).