View synonyms for accidental


[ ak-si-den-tl ]


  1. happening by chance or accident; not planned; unexpected:

    an accidental meeting.

    Synonyms: unintentional

    Antonyms: contrived, planned

  2. accidental benefits.

  3. Music. relating to or indicating sharps, flats, or naturals.


  1. a nonessential or subsidiary circumstance, characteristic, or feature.
  2. Music. a sign placed before a note indicating a chromatic alteration of its pitch.


/ ˌæksɪˈdɛntəl /


  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


  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

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Derived Forms

  • ˌacciˈdentally, adverb

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Other Words From

  • ac·ci·den·tal·ly ac·ci·dent·ly adverb
  • ac·ci·den·tal·ness ac·ci·den·tal·i·ty noun
  • non·ac·ci·den·tal adjective noun
  • non·ac·ci·den·tal·ness noun
  • pre·ac·ci·den·tal adjective
  • pseu·do·ac·ci·den·tal adjective
  • qua·si-ac·ci·den·tal adjective
  • un·ac·ci·den·tal adjective

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Word History and Origins

Origin of accidental1

First recorded in 1350–1400; Middle English word from Medieval Latin word accidentālis. See accident, -al 1

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Synonym Study

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.

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Example Sentences

You have no idea which elements were due to your innate talent and which were accidental.

That was followed by a report that roughly 30 percent of college athletes who've contracted the virus end up with inflammation of the heart muscle, called myocarditis—a number that ESPN is now saying is an accidental exaggeration.

If you manage sites with licensable images, this tag can help communicate the licensing details to potential customers, reduce accidental image theft and increase revenues for your images.

So when he died in December 2019, at age 21, after a seizure from an accidental overdose of oxycodone and codeine, it crushed people everywhere.

From Ozy

Researchers cannot ethically alter human prenatal hormone levels, so they rely on “accidental experiments” in which prenatal hormone levels or responses to them were unusual, such as with intersex people.

This is kind of an accidental career for me—which is why I approach it with irreverence and playfulness.

Whatever irregularities occurred were accidental and insignificant.

In 1978, Scott Newman, his 28-year-old son, died of an accidental drug and alcohol overdose.

An accidental mix-up of measles vaccine and a common muscle relaxer killed at least 15 Syrian children, and possibly many more.

Around two thirds of these accidental deaths happened in the home or vehicle of the family, with mostly unsecured guns.

No accidental relations of parts of names is resorted to, as was done in the case of the American Presidents.

Christianity owed its magnificent opportunities (which it has wasted) to several accidental circumstances.

In the meantime, Colonel Fry had died suddenly from an accidental fall, and Washington had succeeded to the command.

A statesman's life is the life for me; behold Mr. Devenish, the new M.P.—no, look here, that was quite accidental.

According to him, literature ought to be intentional, and the accidental restrained as much as possible.


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More About Accidental

What does accidental mean?

Accidental describes something that happens by chance or without planning, as in The hero has an accidental meeting with the villain early in the movie that sets the hero on his course.

Accidental can also sometimes refer to something that comes about by chance.

Example: We had to sign a contract saying we are aware of the possibility of accidental injury.

Where does accidental come from?

The first records of the term accidental come from around 1350. It ultimately comes from the Medieval Latin accidentālis. Accident refers to something that happens by chance, often something negative. Adding the suffix al creates a term that can be used to describe something that happens by chance.

Accidental can also mean nonessential or subsidiary. An example of this is to describe an unexpected benefit you receive, such as your office being near a restaurant you enjoy or when a product you buy comes with extra parts. Those with a musical ear will know that an accidental is a marking on sheet music that indicates whether a note should be played as a sharp, natural, or flat.

Did you know … ?

What are some other forms related to accidental?

  • accidentally (adverb)
  • accidentalness (noun)
  • accidentality (noun)
  • nonaccidental (adjective, noun)
  • nonaccidentally (adverb)

What are some synonyms for accidental?

What are some words that share a root or word element with accidental

What are some words that often get used in discussing accidental?

How is accidental used in real life?

Accidental is more often used to discuss something negative, like crashes.



Try using accidental!

Which of the following is NOT a synonym for accidental?

A. unforeseen
B. deliberate
C. unintentional
D. chance

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