Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The chance happening of fortunate or adverse events; luck: He decided to go home for the holidays, and his fortune turned for the worse.
  • n. The turns of luck in the course of one's life.
  • n. Success, especially when at least partially resulting from luck: No matter what they tried, it ended in fortune.
  • n. A person's condition or standing in life determined by material possessions or financial wealth: She pursued her fortune in another country.
  • n. Extensive amounts of material possessions or money; wealth.
  • n. A large sum of money: spent a fortune on the new car.
  • n. A hypothetical, often personified force or power that favorably or unfavorably governs the events of one's life: We believe that Fortune is on our side.
  • n. Fate; destiny: told my fortune with tarot cards.
  • n. A foretelling of one's destiny.
  • transitive v. Archaic To endow with wealth.
  • transitive v. Obsolete To ascribe or give good or bad fortune to.
  • intransitive v. Archaic To occur by chance; happen.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Destiny or fate.
  • n. A prediction or set of predictions about a person's future provided by a fortune teller.
  • n. A small slip of paper with wise or vaguely prophetic words printed on it, baked into a fortune cookie.
  • n. A chance.
  • n. Good luck.
  • n. One's wealth; the amount of money one has; especially, if it is vast.
  • n. A large amount of money.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The arrival of something in a sudden or unexpected manner; chance; accident; luck; hap; also, the personified or deified power regarded as determining human success, apportioning happiness and unhappiness, and distributing arbitrarily or fortuitously the lots of life.
  • n. That which befalls or is to befall one; lot in life, or event in any particular undertaking; fate; destiny.
  • n. That which comes as the result of an undertaking or of a course of action; good or ill success; especially, favorable issue; happy event; success; prosperity as reached partly by chance and partly by effort.
  • n. Wealth; large possessions; large estate; riches.
  • intransitive v. To fall out; to happen.
  • transitive v. To make fortunate; to give either good or bad fortune to.
  • transitive v. To provide with a fortune.
  • transitive v. To presage; to tell the fortune of.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To determine the fate or chance of; fix or control the lot or fortune of; dispose of.
  • To foretell the fortune or lot of; presage.
  • To endow with wealth or fortune.
  • To befall; fall out; happen; chance; come to pass casually.
  • To come by chance.
  • n. Chance; hap; luck; fate.
  • n. Chance personified; the events or circumstances of life antecedent to some result attributed to their working, more or less consciously personified and regarded as a divinity which metes out happiness and unhappiness, and distributes arbitrarily or capriciously the lots of life.
  • n. That which falls to one as his portion in life or in any particular proceeding; the course of events as affecting condition or state; circumstances; lot: often in the plural: as, good or bad fortune; to share one's fortunes.
  • n. Specifically, good luck; prosperity; success.
  • n. Estate; possessions; especially, when used absolutely, large estate; wealth: as, he married a lady of fortune.
  • n. A person of wealth; especially, a marriageable heir or heiress.
  • n. In astrology, one of the fortunate planets: namely, Jupiter, Venus, the sun, the moon, and Mercury.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a large amount of wealth or prosperity
  • n. an unknown and unpredictable phenomenon that causes an event to result one way rather than another
  • n. an unknown and unpredictable phenomenon that leads to a favorable outcome
  • n. your overall circumstances or condition in life (including everything that happens to you)

Etymologies

Middle English, from Old French, from Latin fortūna.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin fortuna ("fate, luck"). The plural form fortunae meant  ("possessions"), which also gave fortune the meaning of  ("riches"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

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  • “It is easy at any moment to surrender a large fortune; to build one up is a difficult and an arduous task.�?
    - Titus Livius

    July 26, 2009

  • Must I confess that Charles—that libertine, that extravagant, that bankrupt in fortune and reputation—that he it is for whom I am thus anxious and malicious, and to gain whom I would sacrifice every thing?
    Sheridan, School for Scandal

    January 5, 2008