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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.
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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.
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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

See more synonyms for accidental on Thesaurus.com
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 accidental

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • There are always such crowds of accidental arguments for anything.

    Alarms and Discursions

    G. K. Chesterton

  • Realize it thoroughly: it is a methodical not an accidental world.

    Pax Vobiscum

    Henry Drummond

  • He wished to know whether it was not liable to accidental derangement?

  • My only chance will be the chance of an accidental meeting with Him.

    Henry Dunbar

    M. E. Braddon

  • I had one or two pieces of luck in the way of accidental cases.


British Dictionary definitions for accidental

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
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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
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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 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.

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n.

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

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper