fortuitous

adjective
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 That faith has led Thomas through a fortuitous career on the Plains. Tom Green | Tgreen@al.com, al, "Daniel Thomas’ career comes full circle against Minnesota team he nearly signed with in 2016," 31 Dec. 2019 If real, the incident proved oddly fortuitous, or perhaps inspirational: suspense became Hendrix’s specialty. Ashley Hoffman, Time, "This Twitter Thread About a Man Living in the Walls Is Really Creeping People Out Because 'Trauma Never Gets Old'," 30 Oct. 2019 Inter took a 22nd minute lead in fortuitous circumstances, as Lautaro Martinez's hopeful long-range shot took a huge deflection and looped over Brescia goalkeeper Enrico Alfonso. SI.com, "Brescia 1-2 Inter: Report, Ratings & Reaction as Lukaku Stunner Earns Win," 29 Oct. 2019 Even though Hicks had not started a major league game since Aug. 2, the Yankees put him on the A.L.C.S. roster, and that proved fortuitous when Stanton sustained his injury last weekend. James Wagner, New York Times, "How the Yankees Beat the Astros in Game 5 of the A.L.C.S.," 18 Oct. 2019 To take advantage of this fortuitous orbital circumstance, space agencies will be lobbing a small brigade of spacecraft toward the Red Planet. Seth Shostak, NBC News, "We may be closing in on the discovery of alien life. Are we prepared?," 4 Oct. 2019 When Bradford’s account of 1621 was rediscovered in the 1850s, the timing was fortuitous, as the divided nation hurtled toward Civil War. Olivia B. Waxman, Time, "‘I Was Teaching a Lot of Misconceptions.’ The Way American Kids Are Learning About the 'First Thanksgiving' Is Changing," 21 Nov. 2019 Her second dress for the party was the result of a fortuitous meeting. Belathée, Harper's BAZAAR, "Kimmy Scotti and Adam Metzger's Halloween Wedding Was a Garden of Eden of Good & Evil," 31 Oct. 2019 The Manumission Society was a fortuitous alliance of outsiders and insiders — oddball Quakers and Manhattan elitists. Richard Brookhiser, National Review, "The New York Manumission Society," 24 Oct. 2019

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

12 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Fortuitous.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fortuitous. Accessed 23 January 2020.

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More Definitions for fortuitous

fortuitous

adjective
How to pronounce fortuitous (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of fortuitous

formal
: happening by chance
: having or showing good luck

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Comments on fortuitous

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out of the ordinary or unreasonable

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