Origin of incident

1375–1425; late Middle English < Middle French < Medieval Latin incident- (stem of incidēns a happening, noun use of present participle of Latin incidere to befall), equivalent to Latin in- in-2 + -cid- (combining form of cad- fall) + -ent- -ent; cf. cadence
Related formsin·ci·dent·less, adjectivenon·in·ci·dent, noun, adjective
Can be confusedincidence incidents incidental

Synonyms for incident

1. happening. See event. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for incident

Contemporary Examples of incident

Historical Examples of incident

  • It is not necessary to dwell on every incident of this terrible journey.

  • As we have seen, he cannot keep the incident out of his plays.

  • Shakespeare should never have used this incident; it is a blot on his conception.

  • Small as the incident was, it marked a change in Sidney's position in the ward.


    Mary Roberts Rinehart

  • Miss Bartlett was pleased to look upon this incident as funny.

British Dictionary definitions for incident



a distinct or definite occurrence; event
a minor, subsidiary, or related event or action
a relatively insignificant event that might have serious consequences, esp in international politics
a public disturbancethe police had reports of an incident outside a pub
the occurrence of something interesting or excitingthe trip was not without incident


(postpositive foll by to) related (to) or dependent (on)
(when postpositive, often foll by to) having a subsidiary or minor relationship (with)
(esp of a beam of light or particles) arriving at or striking a surfaceincident electrons

Word Origin for incident

C15: from Medieval Latin incidens an event, from Latin incidere, literally: to fall into, hence befall, happen, from in- ² + 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 incident

early 15c., "something which occurs casually in connection with something else," from Middle French incident and directly from Latin incidentem (nominative incidens), present participle of incidere "happen, befall," from in- "on" + -cidere, comb. form of cadere "to fall" (see case (n.1)). Sense of "an occurrence viewed as a separate circumstance" is from mid-15c. Meaning "event that might trigger a crisis or political unrest" first attested 1913.


"conducive (to), contributing (to)," early 15c., from Middle French incident (adj.) or directly from Latin incidens, present participle of incidere (see incident (n.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper