ac·​ci·​dence ˈak-sə-dən(t)s How to pronounce accidence (audio)
: a part of grammar that deals with inflections (see inflection sense 2a)
Inflectional morphology studies the way in which words vary (or "in-flect"), in order to express grammatical contrasts in sentences, such as singular/plural or past/present tense. In older grammar books, this branch of the subject was referred to as "accidence."David Crystal
Grammar has become that branch of linguistics that deals with a language's inflexions (accidence), other structures of words (morphology), its phonetics system (phonology), and the arrangement of its words in sentences (syntax).Philip Howard

Word History


Middle English accidens "set of grammatical endings," borrowed from Late Latin accidentia "categories applicable to a word class (such as gender, number, and case for nouns)," from neuter plural of Latin accident-, accidens "contingent attribute" — more at accident

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of accidence was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near accidence

Cite this Entry

“Accidence.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Feb. 2024.

More from Merriam-Webster on accidence

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!