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 But in a fortuitous twist, the rover has discovered a wealth of rocks that the science team wants to study in detail not far from Ingenuity's original airfield. Ashley Strickland, CNN, "After fourth successful flight, Mars helicopter gets a new mission," 30 Apr. 2021 Last year, The Circle was a fortuitous reflection of our changing reality. Ariana Romero,, "You Have 9 New Netflix Treats To Binge This Weekend — Here’s What’s Worth Watching," 16 Apr. 2021 Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama, one of two players (with Brian Harman) in second place at 3-under, needed a shaved bank to miraculously hold his ball from rolling into Rae’s Creek at 13 and a fortuitous bounce off a tree to save a wayward tee shot on 15. Mark Zeigler, San Diego Union-Tribune, "First round of Masters is rough for everyone but Justin Rose," 8 Apr. 2021 Anaheim built the lead to 4-1 late in the period on a fortuitous bounce. Ross Mckeon, San Francisco Chronicle, "Sharks squander opportunity in 5-1 loss to last-place Anaheim," 6 Apr. 2021 The timing of its arrival appears to be quite fortuitous, as the popularity of Chromebooks and Chrome OS has soared in recent years. Marco Chiappetta, Forbes, "First Snapdragon 7c Chromebook Analysis Shows Class-Leading Performance And Battery Life," 9 Mar. 2021 Despite the fortuitous bounce, the play was a credit to the Wild's third line – which won the faceoff to maintain pressure in the Kings' end and winger Jordan Greenway's rush to the inside created the lane for Dumba to pinch. Sarah Mclellan, Star Tribune, "And another one: Marcus Johansson's overtime goal gives Wild a win over Los Angeles," 16 Jan. 2021 This turned out to be fortuitous because her longtime lease of Old Town park concessions was due to expire and state officials were considering historic restoration of several Old Town buildings and a change of operators. Diane Bell Columnist, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column: An Earth Day tale: Old Town pepper tree saved by passerby," 22 Apr. 2021 For a president aiming to sell a gargantuan stimulus plan, the timing has been fortuitous. Todd J. Gillman, Dallas News, "Biden pitches $2.3T infrastructure plan as cure for Texas grid failure, but it’s not in the fine print," 13 Apr. 2021

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

8 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Fortuitous.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for fortuitous



English Language Learners Definition of fortuitous

: happening by chance
: having or showing good luck

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