serendipity

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noun ser·en·dip·i·ty \ˌser-ən-ˈdi-pə-tē\

Definition of serendipity

  1. :  the faculty or phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for; also :  an instance of this

serendipity was our Word of the Day on 02/13/2014. Hear the podcast!

Examples of serendipity in a sentence

  1. As they leapfrog from South Africa to Singapore in search of local delicacies, the authors prove again and again that serendipity is the traveler's strongest ally: many of their most memorable meals issue from the hands of generous strangers … —Sarah Karnasiewicz, Saveur, June/July 2008

  2. If reporters fail to keep these files, they seldom luck into bigger stories. Their investigative work typically happens only by design—analyzing the news, for instance—not by serendipity. —Michael J. Bugeja, Editor & Publisher, 13 Jan. 2003

  3. A week earlier, the doctor would have had no recourse but to make an incision in the baby's skin to get to a vein—a precarious option now, since time was running short and it would take nearly half an hour to assemble the necessary equipment. But in an extraordinary bit of serendipity, Hanson had attended a seminar on emergency medical care for children just a week before. —David Ruben, Parenting, December/January 1996

  4. They found each other by pure serendipity.

Where Does 'Serendipity' Come From?

In the mid-1700s, English author Horace Walpole stumbled upon an interesting tidbit of information while researching a coat of arms. In a letter to his friend Horace Mann he wrote: "This discovery indeed is almost of that kind which I call Serendipity, a very expressive word, which as I have nothing better to tell you, I shall endeavor to explain to you: you will understand it better by the derivation than by the definition. I once read a silly fairy tale, called 'The Three Princes of Serendip': as their highnesses travelled, they were always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things they were not in quest of…." Walpole's memory of the tale (which, as it turns out, was not quite accurate) gave serendipity the meaning it retains to this day.

Origin and Etymology of serendipity

from its possession by the heroes of the Persian fairy tale The Three Princes of Serendip


First Known Use: 1754


SERENDIPITY Defined for English Language Learners

serendipity

play
noun ser·en·dip·i·ty \ˌser-ən-ˈdi-pə-tē\

Definition of serendipity for English Language Learners

  • : luck that takes the form of finding valuable or pleasant things that are not looked for


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