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[fawr-too-i-tuh s, -tyoo-] /fɔrˈtu ɪ təs, -ˈtyu-/
happening or produced by chance; accidental:
a fortuitous encounter.
lucky; fortunate:
a series of fortuitous events that advanced her career.
Origin of fortuitous
1645-55; < Latin fortuitus, fortuītus, equivalent to fortu- (u-stem base, otherwise unattested, akin to fors, genitive fortis chance, luck) + -itus, -ītus adj. suffix (for formation cf. gratuitous); see -ous
Related forms
fortuitously, adverb
fortuitousness, noun
nonfortuitous, adjective
nonfortuitously, adverb
nonfortuitousness, noun
unfortuitous, adjective
unfortuitously, adverb
unfortuitousness, noun
Can be confused
felicitous, fortuitous, fortunate (see usage note at the current entry)
1. incidental.
Synonym Study
1. See accidental.
Usage note
Fortuitous has developed in sense from “happening by chance” to “happening by lucky chance” to simply “lucky, fortunate.” This development was probably influenced by the similarity of fortuitous to fortunate and perhaps to felicitous: A fortuitous late-night snowfall made for a day of great skiing.
Many object to the use of fortuitous to mean simply “fortunate” and insist that it should be limited to its original sense of “accidental.” In modern standard use, however, fortuitous almost always carries the senses both of accident or chance and luck or fortune. It is infrequently used in its sense of “accidental” without the suggestion of good luck, and even less frequently in the sense “lucky” without at least a suggestion of accident or chance: A fortuitous encounter with a former schoolmate led to a new and successful career for the artist. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for unfortuitous


happening by chance, esp by a lucky chance; unplanned; accidental
Derived Forms
fortuitously, adverb
fortuitousness, noun
Word Origin
C17: from Latin fortuitus happening by chance, from forte by chance, from fors chance, luck
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 unfortuitous



1650s, from Latin fortuitus "happening by chance, casual, accidental," from forte "by chance," ablative of fors "chance" (related to fortuna; see fortune). It means "accidental, undesigned" not "fortunate." Earlier in this sense was fortuit (late 14c.), from French. Related: Fortuitously; fortuitousness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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