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[ak-si-duh nt] /ˈæk sɪ dənt/
an undesirable or unfortunate happening that occurs unintentionally and usually results in harm, injury, damage, or loss; casualty; mishap:
automobile accidents.
Law. such a happening resulting in injury that is in no way the fault of the injured person for which compensation or indemnity is legally sought.
any event that happens unexpectedly, without a deliberate plan or cause.
chance; fortune; luck:
I was there by accident.
a fortuitous circumstance, quality, or characteristic:
an accident of birth.
Philosophy. any entity or event contingent upon the existence of something else.
Geology. a surface irregularity, usually on a small scale, the reason for which is not apparent.
Origin of accident
1350-1400; Middle English < Latin accident- (stem of accidēns happening, present participle of accidere to befall), equivalent to ac- ac- + -cid-, combining form of cad- fall + -ent- -ent
Related forms
postaccident, adjective
Can be confused
accident, Occident.
1. mischance, misfortune, misadventure; contingency; disaster.
4. design, intent. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for accidents
  • Too much proximity to the wild leads to fatal accidents.
  • Not surprisingly, there is also a strong link between sleep deprivation and traffic accidents.
  • But accidents and industry resistance to oversight continue to raise concerns.
  • But there have been accidents, and mistrust has been sown as the industrial process has moved into rural communities.
  • In the second group were victims of devastating accidents.
  • Even once you're riding a wave, you frequently have to slalom through the crowd, and accidents are not uncommon.
  • But the majority of accidents in cars do not come from the choices you make but from wrong doing from others.
  • It feared accidents and the one mistake that could end it all.
  • Ninety percent of accidents are attributable to human error.
  • So don't go looking for freak accidents of nature to derail that calculus.
British Dictionary definitions for accidents


an unforeseen event or one without an apparent cause
anything that occurs unintentionally or by chance; chance; fortune: I met him by accident
a misfortune or mishap, esp one causing injury or death
(logic, philosophy) Also called adjunct. a nonessential attribute or characteristic of something (as opposed to substance)
(metaphysics) a property as contrasted with the substance in which it inheres
(geology) a surface irregularity in a natural formation, esp in a rock formation or a river system
Word Origin
C14: via Old French from Latin accident- chance, happening, from the present participle of accidere to befall, happen, from ad- to + 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
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Word Origin and History for accidents



late 14c., "an occurrence, incident, event," from Old French accident (12c.), from Latin accidentem (nominative accidens), present participle of accidere "happen, fall out, fall upon," from ad- "to" (see ad-) + cadere "fall" (see case (n.1)). Meaning grew from "something that happens, an event," to "something that happens by chance," then "mishap." Philosophical sense "non-essential characteristic of a thing" is late 14c. Meaning "unplanned child" is attested by 1932.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for accidents



A person born from an unplanned pregnancy; an unplanned pregnancy: At 50, this third one was an accident (1900+)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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