ac·ci·dent (ăksĭ-dənt, -dĕnt′)
a. An unexpected and undesirable event, especially one resulting in damage or harm: an accident on the assembly line; car accidents on icy roads.
b. An unforeseen event that is not the result of intention or has no apparent cause: A series of happy accidents led to his promotion.
c. An instance of involuntary urination or defecation.
2. Lack of intention; chance: ran into an old friend by accident.
3. Philosophy An attribute of a substance that is not essential to its nature.
[Middle English, chance event, from Old French, from Latin accidēns, accident-, present participle of accidere, to happen : ad-, ad- + cadere, to fall; see kad- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
The American Heritage Dictionary Blog
Check out our blog, updated regularly, for new words and revised definitions, interesting images from the 5th edition, discussions of usage, and more.
American Heritage Dictionary Products
The American Heritage Dictionary, 5th Edition
The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms
The American Heritage Roget's Thesaurus
Curious George's Dictionary
The American Heritage Children's Dictionary
The American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots
The American Heritage Student Grammar Dictionary
The American Heritage Desk Dictionary + Thesaurus
The American Heritage Science Dictionary
The American Heritage Dictionary of Business Terms
The American Heritage Student Dictionary
The American Heritage Essential Student Thesaurus