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

There is a special dish, a fortuitous event and a plot twist. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian, "A Steinbeck Story About a Chef and His Cat Has Been Published in English for the First Time," 1 Aug. 2019 The premiums aren’t just prizes handed out by fate — prime landing spots on life’s wheel of fortune, thanks to fortuitous spins — but the results of some savvy risk-taking. Los Angeles Times, "LGBTQ-centric neighborhoods offer home price premiums, studies suggest," 26 July 2019 Flight of the Archaeopteryx Two years after Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species, the discovery of a missing link between dinosaurs and birds gave evolutionary theory a fortuitous credibility boost. Jonathon Keats, Discover Magazine, "The Origins of Flight, From Birds to Bugs to Planes," 21 June 2019 Image The Yankees were aided immensely by a fortuitous bounce in the top of the 10th inning after Aroldis Chapman walked Tony Kemp with two out and sent him to second with a wild pitch. Wallace Matthews, New York Times, "Gleyber Torres Finishes Off a Yankees Rally to Beat the Astros," 30 May 2018 That would prove to be a fortuitous turn of events. Mark Goodman, The Denver Post, "Colorado Rapids defender Lalas Abubakar is going places, and he doesn’t seem to mind," 21 June 2019 Over a series of e-mails, Lee described the Eagles’ playoff run as a climactic moment for the company, a fortuitous reward for years of hard work. Tim Rohan,, "An Underdog Story: How Two Friends in China Are Feeding the Eagles' Dog Mask Craze," 24 Jan. 2018 The timing of the movie’s release couldn’t be more fortuitous, as calls for reform have grown louder amid an FBI investigation into numerous high-profile programs. Rohan Nadkarni,, "Tony Parker Q&A: Life After Basketball and the Spurs' Season," 28 Mar. 2018 When de Gayle fitted Hope in the look, something fortuitous happened. Alexandra Macon, Vogue, "In The Spanish Princess, Catherine of Aragon’s Wedding Dress May Be All the Bridal Inspiration You Really Need," 24 Apr. 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

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Statistics for fortuitous

Last Updated

10 Aug 2019

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Time Traveler for fortuitous

The first known use of fortuitous was in 1653

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English Language Learners Definition of fortuitous

: happening by chance
: having or showing good luck

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Comments on fortuitous

What made you want to look up fortuitous? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


of or relating to the heavens

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