: the faculty or phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for; also : an instance of this
We found the restaurant by pure serendipity, rather than careful research, but it turned out to be the best deal in town.
"Many young people today have never had the experience of getting lost.… They have not experienced the pleasure of wandering while lost and discovering by serendipity interesting new places." - From an op-ed by Katie Davis and Howard Gardner in the Seattle Times, January 7, 2014
Did You Know?
In the mid-1700s, English author Horace Walpole stumbled upon an interesting tidbit of information while researching a coat of arms. In a letter to his friend Horace Mann he wrote: "This discovery indeed is almost of that kind which I call Serendipity, a very expressive word, which as I have nothing better to tell you, I shall endeavor to explain to you: you will understand it better by the derivation than by the definition. I once read a silly fairy tale, called 'The Three Princes of Serendip': as their highnesses travelled, they were always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things they were not in quest of…." Walpole's memory of the tale (which, as it turns out, was not quite accurate) gave "serendipity" the meaning it retains to this day.
Test Your Memory
What is the meaning of "jilt," our Word of the Day from January 12? The answer is …