for·​tu·​itous | \ fȯr-ˈtü-ə-təs How to pronounce fortuitous (audio) , -ˈtyü-, fər- \

Definition of fortuitous

1 : occurring by chance
2a : fortunate, lucky from a cost standpoint, the company's timing is fortuitousBusiness Week
b : coming or happening by a lucky chance belted down the stairs, and there was a fortuitous train— Doris Lessing

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Other Words from fortuitous

fortuitously adverb
fortuitousness noun

Choose the Right Synonym for fortuitous

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

Usage 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 senses 1 and 2a, is virtually unnoticed by the critics. Sense 1 is the only sense commonly used in negative constructions.

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.

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.
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Recent Examples on the Web The firm aggressively snapped up senior and mid-level Obama administration officials from the White House and Treasury Department, giving it connections that have now proved fortuitous with Biden’s victory. Washington Post, "Two Biden aides will recuse on BlackRock issues as past ties pose questions," 2 Jan. 2021 One fortuitous moment came when Jolstad tapped the expertise of a former client, restaurateur Anne Spaeth, owner of the Lynhall in Minneapolis. Rick Nelson, Star Tribune, "Kathie's Coffee creator honors her Cloquet mom who is fighting pancreatic cancer," 11 Dec. 2020 The fortuitous span means that, at least for one more week, the Cowboys remain alive in the NFC East. Jori Epstein, USA TODAY, "Dallas Cowboys pull away from San Francisco 49ers for second consecutive win," 20 Dec. 2020 However, their timing is fortuitous for the farming sector. Abby Smith, Washington Examiner, "Farming groups warm to emissions cuts just in time for Biden," 11 Dec. 2020 The manufacturing error that led to the half dose will probably go down as a fortuitous mistake. Sarah Zhang, The Atlantic, "Vaccine Trials Can Still Surprise Us," 1 Dec. 2020 To be sure, The Queen’s Gambit was the result of some fortuitous alchemy, which enabled it to generate a surge in chess sales. Adam Epstein, Quartz, "Booming chess sales prove Netflix is a potential advertising powerhouse," 30 Nov. 2020 Louisville escaped with a fortuitous miss but set the table by playing through fatigue and keeping at the game plan as time progressed. Shannon Russell, The Courier-Journal, "What we learned from Louisville basketball's thriller win against Seton Hall," 27 Nov. 2020 The fortuitous friendship is a product of chance and a wrong text number. Paulina Villegas, Washington Post, "Despite covid-19 loss, ‘Thanksgiving Grandma’ celebrates with the young man she met by accidental text," 23 Nov. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'fortuitous.' 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 fortuitous

1653, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for fortuitous

Latin fortuitus; akin to Latin fort-, fors chance — more at fortune entry 1

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Time Traveler for fortuitous

Time Traveler

The first known use of fortuitous was in 1653

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Statistics for fortuitous

Last Updated

20 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Fortuitous.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for fortuitous


How to pronounce fortuitous (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of fortuitous

: happening by chance
: having or showing good luck

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Comments on fortuitous

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