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[ak-si-den-tl] /ˌæk sɪˈdɛn tl/
happening by chance or accident; not planned; unexpected:
an accidental meeting.
nonessential; incidental; subsidiary:
accidental benefits.
Music. relating to or indicating sharps, flats, or naturals.
a nonessential or subsidiary circumstance, characteristic, or feature.
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 forms
accidentally, accidently, adverb
accidentalness, accidentality, noun
nonaccidental, adjective, noun
nonaccidentally, adverb
nonaccidentalness, noun
preaccidental, adjective
preaccidentally, adverb
pseudoaccidental, adjective
pseudoaccidentally, adverb
quasi-accidental, adjective
quasi-accidentally, adverb
unaccidental, adjective
unaccidentally, adverb
1. unintentional, unforeseen.
1. planned, contrived.
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. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for accidently
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • At that very moment, the crepe flounce on her dress was accidently torn off.

    Revolutionary Reader Sophie Lee Foster
  • He had chopped off several of her fingers, when they were accidently interrupted.

    Basque Legends Wentworth Webster
  • The matter was settled for him by meeting her accidently outside the buvette.

    Beggars on Horseback F. Tennyson Jesse
  • The other accidently put an end to her own life several weeks ago.

    Little Wolf M. A. Cornelius
  • I was in dread for fear his trembling finger might accidently touch the trigger.

    A Texas Cow Boy Chas. A. Siringo
  • But I wouldn't agree to that for fear it might accidently be true.

    A Texas Cow Boy Chas. A. Siringo
  • “You might accidently run into the person who stole your gun,” Penny suggested.

    Swamp Island Mildred A. Wirt
  • Sacred to the memory of Four-ace Johnston, accidently shot, Sep. 4, 1885.

    Lin McLean Owen Wister
British Dictionary definitions for accidently


occurring by chance, unexpectedly, or unintentionally
nonessential; incidental
(music) denoting sharps, flats, or naturals that are not in the key signature of a piece
(logic) (of a property) not essential; contingent
an incidental, nonessential, or supplementary circumstance, factor, or attribute
(music) a symbol denoting a sharp, flat, or natural that is not a part of the key signature
Derived Forms
accidentally, 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
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Word Origin and History for accidently



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.



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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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