accident

noun
ac·​ci·​dent | \ ˈak-sə-dənt How to pronounce accident (audio) , -ˌdent How to pronounce accident (audio) , ˈaks-dənt \

Essential Meaning of accident

1 : a sudden event (such as a crash) that is not planned or intended and that causes damage or injury We got in a car accident. = We had a car accident. a traffic accident See More Examplesa fatal accident a motorcycle accident He was injured in an accident at work. The accident happened when her car slid on a patch of ice. Investigators are still trying to determine the cause of the accident. "I'm sorry that I broke the bowl." "That's OK. It was just an accident." = "That's OK. Accidents will happen."Hide
2 : an event that is not planned or intended : an event that occurs by chance Their meeting was an accident. It is just an accident that they arrived when we did. See More ExamplesDiscovering a new café when we got lost was a happy accident. His wealth is a mere accident of birth. [=he is wealthy only because he was born into a wealthy family] He says that no one is to blame for his illness. It was just an accident of nature. [=something that happened naturally] It is no accident that the assistant he hired is so tech savvy. [=he deliberately chose an assistant who was tech savvy]Hide

Full Definition of accident

1a : an unforeseen and unplanned event or circumstance Their meeting was an accident.
b : lack of intention or necessity : chance They met by accident rather than by design.
2a : an unfortunate event resulting especially from carelessness or ignorance was involved in a traffic accident
b medical : an unexpected and medically important bodily event especially when injurious a cerebrovascular accident
c law : an unexpected happening causing loss or injury which is not due to any fault or misconduct on the part of the person injured but for which legal relief may be sought
d US, informal used euphemistically to refer to an uncontrolled or involuntary act or instance of urination or defecation (as by a baby or a pet) The puppy had an accident on the rug.
3 : a nonessential property or quality of an entity or circumstance the accident of nationality

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Synonyms for accident

Synonyms

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Frequently Asked Questions About accident

What is the difference between accidental and incidental?

Accidental describes what was not planned or intended. It means "happening by accident" or "happening as an accident," as in "an accidental discovery" and "an accidental injury." Incidental typically means "happening as a minor part or result of something else," as in "a chapter that is incidental to the novel's plot." For more information read the full article.

Do you say 'on accident' or 'by accident'?

While both "by accident" and "on accident" are used, "by accident" is far more common.

What does 'accident waiting to happen' mean?

The phrase "an accident waiting to happen" refers to a person or thing that is dangerous or unsafe. For example, a very clumsy person and a rickety ladder might both be referred to as "an accident waiting to happen."

Examples of accident in a Sentence

He was injured in an accident at work. The accident happened when her car slid on a patch of ice. Investigators are still trying to determine the cause of the accident. Their meeting was an accident. She says that her pregnancy was an accident.
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Recent Examples on the Web But something cracked open for me when my brother was killed in a car accident at the age of 16. Afdhel Aziz, Forbes, 11 Oct. 2021 The shooter drove off in a vehicle, which resulted in a car accident, according to the statement. Mike Nolan, chicagotribune.com, 11 Oct. 2021 Just days before his 17th birthday, Georgia high school student Aaron Kirkland died in a car accident. Maria Pasquini, PEOPLE.com, 8 Oct. 2021 Howard, a graduate student running back for the Towson football team, lost his sister in a car accident in 2015 and then his father in a shooting less than two years later. Edward Lee, baltimoresun.com, 8 Oct. 2021 The tribute album honored the late bandleader Camacho, who died in a car accident in Sinaloa, Mexico, in 2015. Billboard Staff, Billboard, 7 Oct. 2021 Wide receiver Kobe Smith, who was injured two weeks ago in a car accident, has returned to practice. San Diego Union-Tribune, 5 Oct. 2021 Snebold died from injuries suffered in a car accident earlier in September. Variety Staff, Variety, 2 Oct. 2021 She is badly injured in a car accident, and a titanium plate is fixed to the side of her skull. Anthony Lane, The New Yorker, 1 Oct. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'accident.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of accident

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3

History and Etymology for accident

Middle English, "happening, nonessential property, diseased condition, disturbance (of the mind)," borrowed from Anglo-French, "irregularity, incident, symptom," borrowed from Latin accident-, accidens "chance event, contingent attribute" (translating Greek symbebēkós), from present participle of accidere "to fall down, impinge on, be heard, happen," from ad- ad- + cadere "to fall" — more at chance entry 1

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Time Traveler for accident

Time Traveler

The first known use of accident was in the 14th century

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Dictionary Entries Near accident

accidens

accident

accidental

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Statistics for accident

Last Updated

15 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Accident.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/accident. Accessed 23 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for accident

accident

noun
ac·​ci·​dent | \ ˈak-sə-dənt How to pronounce accident (audio) , -sə-ˌdent \

Kids Definition of accident

1 : something that happens by chance or from unknown causes and that often causes injury or damage : mishap an automobile accident
2 : chance entry 1 sense 1 We met by accident.

accident

noun
ac·​ci·​dent | \ ˈak-səd-ənt How to pronounce accident (audio) , -sə-ˌdent; ˈaks-dənt How to pronounce accident (audio) \

Medical Definition of accident

1 : an unfortunate event resulting from carelessness, unawareness, ignorance, or a combination of causes
2 : an unexpected bodily event of medical importance especially when injurious a cerebrovascular accident
3 : an unexpected happening causing loss or injury which is not due to any fault or misconduct on the part of the person injured but for which legal relief may be sought

Other Words from accident

accidental \ ˌak-​sə-​ˈdent-​ᵊl How to pronounce accident (audio) \ adjective
accidentally \ -​ˈdent-​lē, -​ᵊl-​ē How to pronounce accident (audio) \ also accidently \ -​ˈdent-​lē How to pronounce accident (audio) \ adverb

accident

noun
ac·​ci·​dent

Legal Definition of accident

: an unexpected usually sudden event that occurs without intent or volition although sometimes through carelessness, unawareness, ignorance, or a combination of causes and that produces an unfortunate result (as an injury) for which the affected party may be entitled to relief under the law or to compensation under an insurance policy — see also unavoidable accident

Note: The term accident has been held to include intentional acts (such as an assault and battery) under workers' compensation laws.

Other Words from accident

accidental adjective
accidentally also accidently adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on accident

Nglish: Translation of accident for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of accident for Arabic Speakers

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