• WordNet 3.6
    • adj accidental happening by chance or unexpectedly or unintentionally "with an inadvertent gesture she swept the vase off the table","accidental poisoning","an accidental shooting"
    • n accidental a musical notation that makes a note sharp or flat or natural although that is not part of the key signature
    • ***
Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
  • Interesting fact: In 1631, two London bible printers accidentally left the word "not" out of the seventh commandment, which then read, "Thou shalt commit adultery." This legendary book is now known as the "Wicked Bible."
    • Accidental A property which is not essential; a nonessential; anything happening accidentally. "He conceived it just that accidentals . . . should sink with the substance of the accusation."
    • Accidental (Mus) A sharp, flat, or natural, occurring not at the commencement of a piece of music as the signature, but before a particular note.
    • Accidental Happening by chance, or unexpectedly; taking place not according to the usual course of things; casual; fortuitous; as, an accidental visit.
    • Accidental Nonessential; not necessary belonging; incidental; as, are accidental to a play.
    • Accidental (Paint) Those fortuitous effects produced by luminous rays falling on certain objects so that some parts stand forth in abnormal brightness and other parts are cast into a deep shadow.
    • ***
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
  • Interesting fact: In the UK, one third of accidental deaths that happen occur in the home
    • accidental Happening by chance or accident, or unexpectedly; taking place not according to the usual course of things; casual; fortuitous; unintentional: as, an accidental meeting.
    • accidental Non-essential; not necessarily belonging to the subject; adventitious: as, songs are accidental to a play.
    • accidental Synonyms Accidental, Chance, Casual, Fortuitous, Incidental, Contingent. The first four are the words most commonly used to express occurrence without expectation or design. Accidental is the most common, and expresses that which happens outside of the regular course of events. Chance has about the same force as accidental, but it is not used predicatively. There is a tendency to desynonymize accidental and casual, so as to make the former apply to events that are of more consequence: as, an accidental fall; a casual remark. As to actual connection with the main course of events, casual is the word most opposed to incidental; the connection of what is incidental is real and necessary, but secondary: as, an incidental benefit or evil. An incidental remark is a real part of a discussion; a casual remark is not. Fortuitous is rather a learned word, not applicable in many cases where accidental or even casual could be used; perhaps through its resemblance to fortunate, it is rarely if ever used when speaking of that which is unfavorable or undesired; thus, it would not be proper to speak of a fortuitous shipwreck. It is chiefly used with the more abstract words: as, fortuitous events; a fortuitous resemblance. That which is contingent is dependent upon something else for its happening: as, his recovery is contingent upon the continuance of mild weather. See occasional.
    • n accidental Anything happening, occurring, or appearing accidentally, or as if accidentally; a casualty. Specifically— In music, a sign occurring in the course of a piece of music and altering the pitch of the note before which it is placed from the pitch indicated by the signature, or restoring it to the latter after it has undergone such alteration. There are five such signs: the sharp (♯), double sharp (×), flat (♭), double flat (d♭), and natural (♮). The sharp raises the pitch a half step, the double sharp a whole step; the flat lowers the pitch a half step, the double flat a whole step; the natural annuls the effect of a previous sharp or flat occurring either in the signature or as an accidental. The effect of an accidental is usually limited to the bar in which it occurs. In medicine, tissue resulting from morbid action: chiefly employed in this sense by French writers, but adopted by some English authors.
    • n accidental An unessential property; a mere adjunct or circumstance.
    • ***
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
  • Interesting fact: According to legend, tea originated in China when tea leaves accidentally blew into a pot of boiling water
    • adj Accidental happening by chance: not essential
    • ***


  • Pablo Picasso
    “Accidents, try to change them -- it's impossible. The accidental reveals man.”
  • Source Unknown
    Source Unknown
    “There is no such thing as accidental failure. All failure is at least half imposed.”
  • Ambrose Bierce
    “To bother about the best method of accomplishing an accidental result.”
  • Serge Daney
    Serge Daney
    “In an age of synthetic images and synthetic emotions, the chances of an accidental encounter with reality are remote indeed.”
  • Joyce Carol Oates
    Joyce Carol Oates
    “Nothing is accidental in the universe -- this is one of my Laws of Physics -- except the entire universe itself, which is Pure Accident, pure divinity.”
  • James Dye
    James Dye
    “I think we're in trouble if people don't stop thinking everything that's going wrong is due to accidental opinions.”


Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
Cf. F. accidentel, earlier accidental,
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
L. accidĕre, to happen—ad, to, cadĕre, to fall.


In literature:

Indeed, so seldom is the eagle seen, that its presence always seems accidental.
"A Book of Natural History" by Various
Next she was curious to know whether the meeting of the two was accidental or not.
"The Delight Makers" by Adolf Bandelier
Accidentally, misfortune may render a parent dependent and needy.
"Explanation of Catholic Morals" by John H. Stapleton
I had not time to determine whether this was designed or accidental.
"Arthur Mervyn" by Charles Brockden Brown
An apology implies a mistake, wilful or accidental.
"Continental Monthly, Vol. 5, Issue 2, February, 1864" by Various
The same effect sometimes results from actual accidental practice.
"Practical Forestry in the Pacific Northwest" by Edward Tyson Allen
A lesson was no longer a hard task set by a heartless fool who had been accidentally placed in a position of power.
"The Victim" by Thomas Dixon
The move into the open air was not accidental.
"The Growth of English Drama" by Arnold Wynne
One of their muskets might go off, accidentally.
"With Kitchener in the Soudan" by G. A. Henty
On accidentally making two lines rhyme, kiss your hand, and you will be so fortunate as to see your lover before nine that night.
"Current Superstitions" by Various

In poetry:

'Don't, dear, despise my intellect,
Mere accidental things
Of that sort never have effect
On my imaginings.'
"The Workbox" by Thomas Hardy
It was all accidental.
He lived flecking lint off coat lapels
Of men he talked with.
He kissed the miners' babies
And wrote a Denver paper
Of picket silhouettes on a mountain line.
"Memoir Of A Proud Boy" by Carl Sandburg
Imaginings within my imagining,
I too have taken
The chance of life. Now the boy pats my dog
And we start home. Now I am good.
The last mistaken,
Ecstatic, accidental bliss, the blind
"Next Day" by Randall Jarrell
My dinner, sometimes, like things transcendental
And things more substantial, like women and wine
A thing is, uncertain, and quite accidental,
And sometimes I wonder, "Oh! where shall I dine?"
"How The Author Sometimes Dines" by Horatio Alger Jr
TANS. Thou dost well conclude that poetry is not born in rules, or only
slightly and accidentally so; the rules are derived from the poetry, and
there are as many kinds and sorts of true rules as there are kinds and
sorts of true poets.
"The Heroic Enthusiasts - Part The First =First Dialogue.=" by Giordano Bruno
Go blimy, but this thing 'as got to stop.
Well, next time when we makes a big attack,
As soon as we gets well across the top,
I'll plug 'em (accidental) in the back.
'E'll cop a blinkin' packet in 'is spine,
And that'll be the end of 'im, the swine.
"Infidelity" by Robert W Service

In news:

John Foxx/Thinkstock (NEW YORK) — A Taliban spokesperson sent out a routine email last week, accidentally publicly CC'ing the names of everyone on his mailing list , ABC News has learned.
I accidentally created two personal Facebook pages.
Marquise Hill's Death Ruled Accidental Drowning.
A man from Mason City faces criminal charges, after his 4-year-old son accidentally shot him.
Mauritania 's President Is Wounded in Accidental Shooting, Officials Say.
NOUAKCHOTT, Mauritania (Reuters) — President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz was "lightly wounded" after a military patrol accidentally fired on his convoy, the government said Saturday.
Mauritania 's President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz spoke to the nation from a hospital bed in France where he is recovering from what is described as an accidental shooting.
Thousands of Mauritanians lined the road from the airport Saturday to welcome back President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, who went to France for five weeks of medical treatment after being accidentally shot in a friendly fire incident.
Leader accidentally shot by own troops.
After Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin overdosed one month apart in 1970, Fusion magazine editor Robert Somma put together an anthology memorializing artists who had recently and accidentally offed themselves.
Most recently, an important cable was accidentally disconnected, leaving the craft in free drift and complete darkness overnight.
CHICAGO A retired Chicago police officer accidentally shot and killed his son early Tuesday, after mistaking him for a burglar, the officer's family said.
A 77-year-old retired Chicago police officer accidentally shot and killed his son early Tuesday, after mistaking him for a burglar, family members said.
Woman Accidentally Shoots and Kills Husband After Mistaking Him for Intruder.
Man sentenced after accidentally shooting woman's mohawk he mistook for bird.

In science:

Hence the often broken tra jectory of the moving QntMicrPrt present itself a sum of small parts from some circumferences with different radii and centers, lying within flats, which are perpendicular to accidental broken short lines, strongly disordered in space.
Physical model of Schrodinger's electron. Heisenberg convenient way for description of its quantum behaviour
However, the individual numbers N+ and N− are not protected by topology, i.e. very small deformations of the gauge field will lift accidental zero modes.
Random Matrix Theory and Chiral Symmetry in QCD
Since the whole array should see such showers only every few hours, and most have axes farther from the antenna than 100 m, the possibility of accidental noise pulses during such long time intervals reduces the expected sensitivity considerably.
Extensive Air Shower Radio Detection: Recent Results and Outlook
Such a lack of long-range correlations maybe explains, why we can see an “accidental” percolation phenomenon in a zerotemperature magnet whose physics is governed by the disorder configuration.
Susceptibility and Percolation in 2D Random Field Ising Magnets
The appearance of a scale-free structure is not accidental, having that networks grow from stochastic rules, that assumes certain degree of disorder on the microscopic scale.
Adaptive Random Walks on the Class of Web Graph