serendipity

noun
ser·​en·​dip·​i·​ty | \ ˌser-ən-ˈdi-pə-tē How to pronounce serendipity (audio) \

Definition of serendipity

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

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Frequently Asked Questions About serendipity

Are serendipity and fate related?

Serendipity and fate differ in meaning in a number of important ways. The former is defined as "the faculty or phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for," and while fate likewise may be concerned with "something that happens to a person," it need not (in fact, often is not) be pleasant. Among the meanings of fate are "an inevitable and often adverse outcome, condition, or end," "final outcome," and " the circumstances that befall someone or something."

What is the difference between serendipity and luck?

There is considerable similarity between luck and serendipity, but there are also settings in which one word might be more apt than the other. Serendipity has a fairly narrow meaning, one that is concerned with finding pleasing things that one had not been looking for, while luck has a somewhat broader range (with meanings such as "a force that brings good fortune or adversity," "success," and "the events or circumstances that operate for or against an individual"). One might easily be said to have luck that is bad, which one would not say of serendipity.

"How is serendipity used in other parts of speech?"

Serendipity is a noun, coined in the middle of the 18th century by author Horace Walpole (he took it from the Persian fairy tale The Three Princes of Serendip). The adjective form is serendipitous, and the adverb is serendipitously. A serendipitist is "one who finds valuable or agreeable things not sought for."

Examples of serendipity in a Sentence

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 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 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 They found each other by pure serendipity.
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Recent Examples on the Web Founder and chairman Andrey Ternovskiy says the platform offers a refreshing antidote of diversity and serendipity to familiar social echo chambers. Kevin Randall, Wired, "Chatroulette Is On the Rise Again—With Help From AI," 26 Dec. 2020 The wheel of fortune is blessing you with a day of pleasure and serendipity. Tarot Astrologers, chicagotribune.com, "Daily horoscope for December 22, 2020," 22 Dec. 2020 Its perpetrator likely had no place in his plan for serendipity; his goal from the start was to target and break a specific company because its software offered access to the networks of thousands of other companies and government agencies. WSJ, "A Deterrent for the Next Hackers," 22 Dec. 2020 As a final serendipity, the great Shakespeare and Company seal will be stamped in both. Steve Straessle, Arkansas Online, "OPINION | STEVE STRAESSLE: Lost in books," 28 Nov. 2020 Happy millennials from top colleges stroll through futuristic campuses, stumble upon serendipity, enjoy abundant food courts, and play after-hours Ping-Pong while fellow engineers doodle inspired ideas on wall-size whiteboards. John Mackey, National Review, "How to Foster Innovation and Create Value," 2 Dec. 2020 Critics might ascribe one season’s success to serendipity and the only way to forge a winning reputation is to keep winning. Julia Poe, orlandosentinel.com, "Orlando City is eager to build on its historic success next season," 30 Nov. 2020 The answer, as these things so often do, came in a bit of serendipity. Maureen Lee Lenker, EW.com, "Move over, Baby Yoda! Jingle Jangle robot Buddy 3000 will steal your heart," 14 Nov. 2020 Throughout his career, the artist—who at 84 still relishes turning his sharp pen on contemporary politicians—has remained open to serendipity. Amy Crawford, Smithsonian Magazine, "Ralph Steadman’s Earlier Work Shows the Artist’s Abstract Streak," 22 Oct. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'serendipity.' 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 serendipity

1754, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for serendipity

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

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Time Traveler for serendipity

Time Traveler

The first known use of serendipity was in 1754

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Last Updated

10 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Serendipity.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/serendipity. Accessed 20 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for serendipity

serendipity

noun
How to pronounce serendipity (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of serendipity

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

More from Merriam-Webster on serendipity

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for serendipity

Nglish: Translation of serendipity for Spanish Speakers

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