ac·​ci·​dent·​al·​ly ˌak-sə-ˈdent-lē How to pronounce accidentally (audio) -ˈden-tᵊl-ē How to pronounce accidentally (audio)
: in an accidental or unintended manner : by accident
I accidentally deleted the file.
The lock prevents the gate from opening accidentally.
Six lionfish were accidentally released from a home aquarium in Biscayne Bay, Fla., during Hurricane Andrew in 1992.Alcestis Cooky Oberg
The Olympic test was thrown out after the test lab accidentally destroyed the backup sample … that's required to confirm a positive result.Christie Aschwanden
He bumped into her accidentally on purpose. [=he bumped into her intentionally but he tried to make it appear to be an accident]

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web When released into the air—either intentionally or accidentally—balloons often drift out over the ocean. Sarah Kuta, Smithsonian Magazine, 28 Feb. 2023 That is why there are occasional worries that physicists might accidentally or intentionally create one, perhaps inside a particle accelerator such as the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN near Geneva. Adam Mann, Scientific American, 14 Feb. 2023 The original 1997 slasher revolved around a group of friends who are stalked by a killer wielding a hook after accidentally hitting a pedestrian. Brendan Morrow, The Week, 6 Feb. 2023 For example, a person might be driving and accidentally hit a pedestrian, resulting in their death. Victoria Bekiempis, Vulture, 31 Jan. 2023 Agency officials are attempting to determine whether the two people made the changes accidentally or intentionally, and if there was any malicious intent, the person said. Alan Levin, Fortune, 13 Jan. 2023 But strengthening those laws in Virginia and in other states that have put in place nothing or similarly lacking legislation will help keep other children from pulling triggers, either accidentally or intentionally. Theresa Vargas, Washington Post, 11 Jan. 2023 Our pros love that the car cover also has bright reflective stripes, so at nighttime other cars don't accidentally hit it. Alec Scherma, Good Housekeeping, 9 Jan. 2023 Saget, the star of Full House and original host of America's Funniest Home Videos, died this past January in his room at a Florida hotel as the result of head trauma, after accidentally hitting his head. Ew Staff,, 29 Dec. 2022 See More

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

Word History

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of accidentally was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near accidentally

Cite this Entry

“Accidentally.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Mar. 2023.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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