Definitions

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

  • adj. Occurring unexpectedly, unintentionally, or by chance.
  • adj. Music Of or relating to an accidental.
  • n. A property, factor, or attribute that is not essential.
  • n. Music Any of various signs that indicate the alteration of a note by one or two semitones or the cancellation of a previous sign.
  • n. Music A note that has been marked with such a sign.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Happening by chance, or unexpectedly; taking place not according to the usual course of things; casual; fortuitous
  • adj. Nonessential; not necessary belonging; incidental
  • adj. Foreign to the key signature or a proper harmony.
  • n. A property which is not essential; a nonessential; anything happening accidentally.
  • n. 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.
  • n. A sharp, flat, or natural, occurring not at the commencement of a piece of music as the signature, but before a particular note.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Happening by chance, or unexpectedly; taking place not according to the usual course of things; casual; fortuitous.
  • adj. Nonessential; not necessary belonging; incidental.
  • n. A property which is not essential; a nonessential; anything happening accidentally.
  • n. 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.
  • n. A sharp, flat, or natural, occurring not at the commencement of a piece of music as the signature, but before a particular note.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Happening by chance or accident, or unexpectedly; taking place not according to the usual course of things; casual; fortuitous; unintentional: as, an accidental meeting.
  • Non-essential; not necessarily belonging to the subject; adventitious: as, songs are accidental to a play.
  • 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. Anything happening, occurring, or appearing accidentally, or as if accidentally; a casualty.
  • n. An unessential property; a mere adjunct or circumstance.

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

  • adj. happening by chance or unexpectedly or unintentionally
  • n. a musical notation that makes a note sharp or flat or natural although that is not part of the key signature

Etymologies

Sorry, no etymologies found.

Examples

  • Reporters soon adopted the phrase accidental attack, a description that frustrated Pentagon officials, who felt it minimized the ferocity of the sustained assault that had killed or injured two out of every three men on board.

    The Attack on the Liberty

  • Nor again (b) will ‘white’ have another term accidental to it, e.g. ‘musical’.

    Metaphysics

  • In 2007, Greg Parks was prepping his kids for the Florida state test, but in what he calls an accidental peek at the test, the middle-school math teacher noticed a troubling choice of words: Instead of asking kids about the volume of a can — the example he and the textbooks had been using — the test asked about the volume of a swimming pool.

    For teachers, many ways and reasons to cheat on tests

  • And so, these are what I call accidental guerillas.

    CNN Transcript Nov 16, 2008

  • It is natural to conclude, therefore, that they have some hidden property which saves them from attack; and it is easy to see that when any other insects, by what we call accidental variation, come more or less remotely to resemble them, the latter will share to some extent in their immunity.

    Contributions to the Theory of Natural Selection A Series of Essays

  • And as to the mechanic also -- the carpenter, the mason, the blacksmith, the tool-maker of any kind -- there are a thousand circumstances, which we call accidental, that mingle their influence in giving quality and durability to their work, and prevent us from making

    Popular Education For the use of Parents and Teachers, and for Young Persons of Both Sexes

  • Its curves are arbitrary, and what we call accidental, but one after another follows it as if he were guided by a chart on which it was laid down.

    Complete Project Gutenberg Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. Works

  • "When I came across these answers, which I call the 'accidental discovery,' I wasn't seeking the information," Piccirillo told ABCNews.com.

    ABC News: Top Stories

  • That which we see happen, does happen; but it might have happened otherwise: and God, in the catalogue of the causes of events which He has in His prescience, has also those which we call accidental and voluntary, depending upon the liberty.

    The Essays of Montaigne — Complete

  • But John J. Lentini, a fire expert from Florida, told the court Thursday that forensic evidence once thought to prove that fires were deliberately set has since been shown to be present in accidental fires.

    Executed Man Gets a New Day in Court

Comments

Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.