ser·​en·​dip·​i·​ty ˌser-ən-ˈdi-pə-tē How to pronounce serendipity (audio)
: the faculty or phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for
also : an instance of this

Frequently Asked Questions

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 be (in fact, often is not) 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.
Recent Examples on the Web Understanding which activities require the spark of serendipity and which benefit from more structure is critical to AI integration. Rolling Stone Culture Council, Rolling Stone, 22 Aug. 2023 The seeming serendipity of their coming together in a museum can be explained by the strength of von Bothmer’s expertise, Padgett, the former Princeton curator, said. Tom Mashberg, New York Times, 19 Apr. 2023 Cloud landed the role in a moment of serendipity when he was spotted by casting scout Eléonore Hendricks – who referred him to casting director Jennifer Venditti – while walking down the street in New York. USA TODAY, 6 Aug. 2023 Words like serendipity or grace come to mind when delights reveal themselves. Noah Davis, The Christian Science Monitor, 10 July 2023 Cloud landed the role in a moment of serendipity when he was spotted by casting director Jennifer Venditti while walking down the street in New York. USA TODAY, 31 July 2023 For Debnam-Carey, Lost Flowers is full of serendipity. Hannah-Rose Yee, Vogue, 26 July 2023 Kerry Taylor, who had worked at Sotheby’s on the original auction, now had her own business and, in another bit of serendipity, handled the resale. David Browne, Rolling Stone, 20 July 2023 But the role of algorithmic recommendation engines is to reduce that kind of serendipity and replace it with planning and prediction. Nir Eisikovits, Fortune, 7 July 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'serendipity.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

1754, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of serendipity was in 1754


Dictionary Entries Near serendipity

Cite this Entry

“Serendipity.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


ser·​en·​dip·​i·​ty ˌser-ən-ˈdip-ət-ē How to pronounce serendipity (audio)
: the gift of finding valuable or agreeable things not looked for

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