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

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.
Recent Examples on the Web How masterpieces do happen is usually the result of fortuitous happenstance, pitfalls avoided, stupidity sidestepped. Wsj Arts, WSJ, 29 Apr. 2022 Phoenix opened the scoring with a fortuitous own goal off the chest of Will Seymore in the sixth minute, but allowed New Mexico to strike back with a 65th minute equalizer. Theo Mackie, The Arizona Republic, 20 Apr. 2022 Posting their songs and experimental, low-fi music videos online, their after-school hobby led them to a fortuitous crossover with another famed Stockholm collective, Yung Lean’s now-prolific Sad Boys. Keegan Brady, Rolling Stone, 19 Apr. 2022 Fortuitous risk coverage: The plan must cover fortuitous risks and not ordinary business risks. Van Carlson, Forbes, 14 Apr. 2022 Thanks to a fortuitous alignment between a distant star and an intervening galaxy cluster, gravitational lensing has magnified an object that was present less than a billion years after the Big Bang. John Timmer, Ars Technica, 30 Mar. 2022 Then a series of both strategic and fortuitous moves lifted its trajectory. Tovin Lapan, Fortune, 28 Mar. 2022 The vampire bat brain may have also benefitted from a fortuitous gene loss. Jack Tamisiea, Scientific American, 25 Mar. 2022 But that was just one of several fortuitous decisions that lead Dan and Esther to be wandering the top of the Eiffel Tower at the same time. CNN, 23 Feb. 2022 See More

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.

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

Learn More About fortuitous

Time Traveler for fortuitous

Time Traveler

The first known use of fortuitous was in 1653

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near fortuitous




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for fortuitous

Last Updated

8 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Fortuitous.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 May. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More from Merriam-Webster on fortuitous

Nglish: Translation of fortuitous for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of fortuitous for Arabic Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Name That Color

  • a light greenish blue color
  • Name that color:
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!