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

Essential Meaning of serendipity

literary : luck that takes the form of finding valuable or pleasant things that are not looked for They found each other by pure serendipity.

Full Definition of serendipity

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

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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web Terry enjoyed the pace and serendipity of daily journalism. The Editorial Board, WSJ, 13 Jan. 2022 Right now, creating a child relies on chance and serendipity, or enough money for a lot of IVF cycles. Steven Zeitchik, Anchorage Daily News, 11 Jan. 2022 Right now, creating a child relies on chance and serendipity, or enough money for a lot of IVF cycles. Washington Post, 10 Jan. 2022 Rogers fully leaned into the spontaneity of imagination and life’s serendipity to create unique moments. Greg Emmanuel, Essence, 21 Dec. 2021 The casual serendipity that accompanies traditional gallery-going, dropping in and breezing out, plus the more directed pleasures of museum visits, aren’t yet back to normal — but maybe next year. Los Angeles Times, 17 Dec. 2021 For many, the decision to study in China is part serendipity and part last resort. Natasha Robinson, Quartz, 15 Dec. 2021 Whether by serendipity or study, the act of discovery is an unfailing thrill. Paul Croughton, Robb Report, 12 Dec. 2021 When Major League Baseball last self-immolated, cancelling its showcase event and keeping the game away from fans for nearly nine months, its recovery was boosted by a combination of determination and serendipity. Gabe Lacques, USA TODAY, 10 Dec. 2021

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.

See More

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

Learn More About serendipity

Time Traveler for serendipity

Time Traveler

The first known use of serendipity was in 1754

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast About serendipity

Dictionary Entries Near serendipity




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for serendipity

Last Updated

22 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Serendipity.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Jan. 2022.

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

More from Merriam-Webster on serendipity

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for serendipity

Nglish: Translation of serendipity for Spanish Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

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!