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accidental

[ak-si-den-tl]
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adjective
  1. happening by chance or accident; not planned; unexpected: an accidental meeting.
  2. nonessential; incidental; subsidiary: accidental benefits.
  3. Music. relating to or indicating sharps, flats, or naturals.
noun
  1. a nonessential or subsidiary circumstance, characteristic, or feature.
  2. Music. a sign placed before a note indicating a chromatic alteration of its pitch.

Origin of accidental

First recorded in 1350–1400; Middle English word from Medieval Latin word accidentālis. See accident, -al1
Related formsac·ci·den·tal·ly, ac·ci·dent·ly, adverbac·ci·den·tal·ness, ac·ci·den·tal·i·ty, nounnon·ac·ci·den·tal, adjective, nounnon·ac·ci·den·tal·ly, adverbnon·ac·ci·den·tal·ness, nounpre·ac·ci·den·tal, adjectivepre·ac·ci·den·tal·ly, adverbpseu·do·ac·ci·den·tal, adjectivepseu·do·ac·ci·den·tal·ly, adverbqua·si-ac·ci·den·tal, adjectivequa·si-ac·ci·den·tal·ly, adverbun·ac·ci·den·tal, adjectiveun·ac·ci·den·tal·ly, adverb

Synonyms

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1. unintentional, unforeseen.

Synonym study

1. Accidental, casual, fortuitous all describe something outside the usual course of events. Accidental implies occurring unexpectedly or by chance: an accidental blow. Casual describes a passing event of slight importance: a casual reference. Fortuitous is applied to events occurring without known cause, often of a fortunate or favorable nature: a fortuitous shower of meteors. It often also implies good luck or good fortune: a fortuitous choice leading to rapid advancement.

Antonyms

1. planned, contrived.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for accidentally

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • He said he was out hunting with a friend, and his friend's gun went off accidentally.

    Brave and Bold

    Horatio Alger

  • When accidentally struck by the janitor's broom, he gives off a cloud of dust.

  • The eldest of these is accidentally killed by the second, 2440.

    Beowulf

    Unknown

  • Perhaps we may come upon it accidentally in the course of the play.

    Echoes of the War

    J. M. Barrie

  • I am in no hurry for all, or any of these, but if you accidentally meet with them very-cheap, get them for me.


British Dictionary definitions for accidentally

accidental

adjective
  1. occurring by chance, unexpectedly, or unintentionally
  2. nonessential; incidental
  3. music denoting sharps, flats, or naturals that are not in the key signature of a piece
  4. logic (of a property) not essential; contingent
noun
  1. an incidental, nonessential, or supplementary circumstance, factor, or attribute
  2. music a symbol denoting a sharp, flat, or natural that is not a part of the key signature
Derived Formsaccidentally, adverb
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for accidentally

adv.

late 14c., "non-essentially," also "unnaturally," from accidental + -ly (2). Meaning "unintentionally" is recorded from 1580s; phrase accidentally on purpose is recorded from 1862.

accidental

adj.

late 14c., "non-essential," from Old French accidentel or directly from Medieval Latin accidentalis, from Latin accidentem (see accident). Meaning "outside the normal course of nature" is from early 15c.; that of "coming by chance" is from 1570s.

accidental

n.

late 14c., "non-essential quality," from accidental (adj.). The musical sense is from 1868.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper