[ ak-si-den-tl ]
/ ˌæk sɪˈdɛn tl /
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See synonyms for: accidental / accidentality / accidentally / accidentalness on Thesaurus.com

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.
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Origin of accidental

First recorded in 1350–1400; Middle English word from Medieval Latin word accidentālis.See accident, -al1

synonym study for accidental

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.


Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


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.

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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

How to use accidental in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for accidental

/ (ˌæksɪˈdɛntəl) /

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 of accidental

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