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accidental

adjective ac·ci·den·tal \ ˌak-sə-ˈden-tᵊl \
Updated on: 11 Dec 2017

Definition of accidental

1 a : occurring unexpectedly or by chance
  • an accidental discovery
  • Their meeting was purely accidental.
b : happening without intent or through carelessness and often with unfortunate results
  • The death was ruled accidental.
2 : arising from extrinsic causes : incidental, nonessential
3 of a bird : appearing outside its normal geographic range, migration route, or season

accidentally

play \-ˈdent-lē, -ˈden-tᵊl-ē\ or less commonly accidently play \-ˈdent-lē\ adverb

accidentalness

play \-ˈden-tᵊl-nəs\ noun

Examples of accidental in a Sentence

  1. an accidental discovery of oil

  2. The timing of the announcement was purely accidental.

  3. The death was ruled accidental.

Recent Examples of accidental from the Web

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

Origin and Etymology of accidental

Middle English, borrowed from Anglo-French accidentel, borrowed from Late Latin accidentālis, from Latin accident-, accidens accident + -ālis 1-al

Synonym Discussion of accidental

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

2

accidental

noun

Definition of accidental

1 : a nonessential property
2 a music : a note foreign to a key indicated by a signature
b : a prefixed sign indicating an accidental
3 : a bird found outside its normal geographic range, migration route, or season : vagrant

Recent Examples of accidental from the Web

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

Origin and Etymology of accidental

Middle English, borrowed from Medieval Latin accidentālis, noun derivative of Late Latin accidentālis 1accidental



ACCIDENTAL Defined for English Language Learners

accidental

adjective

Definition of accidental for English Language Learners

  • : happening in a way that is not planned or intended : happening by accident : happening as an accident


ACCIDENTAL Defined for Kids

accidental

adjective ac·ci·den·tal \ ˌak-sə-ˈden-tᵊl \

Definition of accidental for Students

1 : happening by chance or unexpectedly
  • an accidental discovery
2 : not happening or done on purpose
  • an accidental shooting

accidentally

adverb
  • I broke it accidentally.


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