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  1. an undesirable or unfortunate happening that occurs unintentionally and usually results in harm, injury, damage, or loss; casualty; mishap: automobile accidents.
  2. Law. such a happening resulting in injury that is in no way the fault of the injured person for which compensation or indemnity is legally sought.
  3. any event that happens unexpectedly, without a deliberate plan or cause.
  4. chance; fortune; luck: I was there by accident.
  5. a fortuitous circumstance, quality, or characteristic: an accident of birth.
  6. Philosophy. any entity or event contingent upon the existence of something else.
  7. Geology. a surface irregularity, usually on a small scale, the reason for which is not apparent.

Origin of accident

1350–1400; Middle English < Latin accident- (stem of accidēns happening, present participle of accidere to befall), equivalent to ac- ac- + -cid-, combining form of cad- fall + -ent- -ent
Related formspost·ac·ci·dent, adjective
Can be confusedaccident Occident

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Antonyms for accident Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for accident


  1. an unforeseen event or one without an apparent cause
  2. anything that occurs unintentionally or by chance; chance; fortuneI met him by accident
  3. a misfortune or mishap, esp one causing injury or death
  4. Also called: adjunct logic philosophy a nonessential attribute or characteristic of something (as opposed to substance)
  5. metaphysics a property as contrasted with the substance in which it inheres
  6. geology a surface irregularity in a natural formation, esp in a rock formation or a river system

Word Origin for accident

C14: via Old French from Latin accident- chance, happening, from the present participle of accidere to befall, happen, from ad- to + cadere to fall
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 accident

late 14c., "an occurrence, incident, event," from Old French accident (12c.), from Latin accidentem (nominative accidens), present participle of accidere "happen, fall out, fall upon," from ad- "to" (see ad-) + cadere "fall" (see case (n.1)). Meaning grew from "something that happens, an event," to "something that happens by chance," then "mishap." Philosophical sense "non-essential characteristic of a thing" is late 14c. Meaning "unplanned child" is attested by 1932.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper