7 Serendipitous Ways To Say “Lucky”

Over a thousand years ago, Saint Patrick's Day (March 17) was first celebrated with a large feast. Today, the patron saint of Ireland is fêted somewhat differently. All around the world, people of all nationalities get into the spirit of the celebration by wearing green, dressing up as leprechauns, and throwing raucous parties.

One part of the Saint Patrick's Day traditions hasn't changed, though—wearing a shamrock, the national emblem of Ireland. The word shamrock comes from the Irish seamróg, meaning "small clover," which is a green plant with three leaves. This is probably why shamrocks are often mixed up with the lucky four-leaf clover ... and in turn, how the Irish became associated with luck. (It's not clear, exactly, how four-leaf clovers themselves came to be seen as lucky, but it's a superstition that dates to at least 1846.)

If you're going to celebrate good ol' Saint Patrick, make sure you know how to write the holiday correctly. Is St. Patricks Day or St. Patrick's Day correct?

In fact, you're probably familiar with the somewhat loaded expression "the luck of the Irish." This cliché, used primarily in the United States, describes how the Irish are seen to have an almost magical ability to attract good luck. The origins of this expression are disputed, and its meaning has likely changed somewhat over time (not least because the Irish were not necessarily a lucky people, historically speaking).

All this is to say, these days many associate the Irish and the holiday of their patron saint with a whole lotta luck.

Lucky, which comes from the Middle Dutch luc, means "fortunate." It's possible that the word was adopted into English as a gambling term—and you can see how being fortunate would be a big deal if you're placing a bet!

As Saint Patrick's Day rolls around, you might be interested to know other ways you can talk good fortune. Well, luckily, you've come to the right place! We'll help you get into the spirit of the holiday with some fun synonyms for lucky.

fortuitous

Fortuitous is an adjective meaning "happening or produced by chance; accidental." It is also used as a synonym for lucky.

Example: It was fortuitous that we ran into you at the grocery store, because I had been meaning to call you.

The word fortuitous comes to us from the Latin fortis, meaning "chance." While today fortuitous is frequently used as a general synonym for "lucky," it still carries a strong association or connotation with an event that happens randomly or by happenstance—like running into a friend you meant to call at the grocery store, for instance!

This association with accidental events rather than pure luck is what makes fortuitous similar to ...

serendipitous

Serendipitous means "come upon or found by accident." It is also used as a synonym for fortuitous.

Example: Caoimhe started to explain why she had not completed her homework but was saved by the serendipitous timing of the bell.

Serendipitous is the adjectival form of serendipity, meaning "an aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident." The word serendipity has a surprising origin. It was coined by the writer Horace Walpole in a letter to Horace Mann in 1754. In the letter, Walpole describes finding a book that he needed for his research as serendipity. The word is a reference to The Three Princes of Serendip, an English-language version of an ancient myth. (Serendip is an old name for modern Sri Lanka.)

In the story, the three princes are accused of stealing a camel and are sentenced to death. At the last minute, someone arrives to say that they had found the missing camel in the desert, and the lives of the princes are saved. Lucky, indeed!

Almost 200 years after Walpole's letter, the adjectival form of the word serendipity, serendipitous, came on the scene.

auspicious

Auspicious means "promising success" or "favored by fortune."

Example: Olivia's purchase of a how-to book on fixing household appliances turned out to be auspicious, because now her toaster wasn't working.

Believe it or not, the word auspicious comes from bird-watching ... well, sort of, anyway. The Latin root of auspicious is auspicium. Auspicium, a kind of augury, was a practice the ancient Romans used to try to read the future based on the flight of birds. If the birds flew in a certain direction, it was a sign that something good was going to happen. In other words, it was auspicious.

This isn't the only term meaning "lucky" that's for the birds. There's also ...

propitious

A close synonym of auspicious, propitious means "presenting favorable conditions; favorable" or "indicative of favor."

Example: That morning, the sunny, clear weather seemed propitious for a long day sailing around the island.

The word propitious comes from the Latin propritius. According to the French dictionary Littré, it's possible that this Latin word originally referred to a favorable augur; in other words, a bird that was flying in a way that signaled something good was going to happen.

 

How do you tell your friend good luck? We have a list of fun alternatives to wishing someone the best.

providential

Providential means "of, relating to, or resulting from divine providence" or "opportune, fortunate, or lucky."

Example: Missing the bus turned out to be providential for Sam when he met a cute girl while waiting for the next one.

The word providential ultimately comes from the Latin prōvidentia, meaning “foresight.” Later, the idea of providence became a part of Jewish and Christian theology; it came to refer to the idea that God was intervening in people's lives. Now, though, it is used frequently as a synonym of lucky, whether or not it is due to divine power.

jammy

While the word jammy might make you think of fruit preserves or even pajamas, in British slang it means "very lucky."

Example: Alice was a very jammy lotto player; she had won no fewer than 10 times over the years!

Apocryphally, the slang expression is said to come from the classic British biscuits (cookies) called Jammie Dodgers, which have a jam filling. Workers at the Jammie Dodgers factory were thought to have it easy, working with such sugary, tasty stuff. The use of jammy to mean "very lucky," though, predates the classic biscuit.  

everything's coming up roses

The expression everything's coming up roses (for someone) means "it's all going really well." In other words, they've been fortunate to grow these sweet-smelling flowers in their (metaphorical) garden.

Example: Ever since Tom moved to Paris to work on his novel, everything has been coming up roses for him—he even landed a book deal his first week there!

This expression was coined by the lyricist Stephen Sondheim as the title of a song for the musical Gypsy (1959). According to Sondheim, "the point was to find a phrase that sounded as if had been in the language for years but was, in fact, invented for the show." It's possibly a riff on the similar expression "to come up smelling like roses," meaning to come out of something looking good. The song "Everything's Coming Up Roses" is appropriately sung by the eponymous Gypsy Rose in the musical.

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