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n. pl. ser·en·dip·i·ties
1. The faculty of making fortunate discoveries by accident.
2. The fact or occurrence of such discoveries.
3. An instance of making such a discovery.

[From the characters in the Persian fairy tale The Three Princes of Serendip, who made such discoveries, from Persian Sarandīp, Sri Lanka, from Arabic Sarandīb, ultimately from Sanskrit Siṃhaladvīpaḥ : Siṃhalaḥ, Sri Lanka + dvīpaḥ, island; see Dhivehi.]

ser′en·dip′i·tous adj.
ser′en·dip′i·tous·ly adv.
Word History: We are indebted to the English author Horace Walpole for the word serendipity, which he coined in one of the 3,000 or more letters on which (along with his novel The Castle of Otranto, considered the first Gothic novel) his literary reputation rests. In a letter of January 28, 1754, in which he discusses a certain painting, Walpole mentions a discovery about the significance of a Venetian coat of arms that he has made while looking at random into an old book—a method by which he had apparently made other worthwhile discoveries before: "This discovery I made by a talisman [a procedure achieving results like a charm] ... by which I find everything I want ... wherever I dip for it. This discovery, indeed, is almost of that kind which I call Serendipity, a very expressive word." Walpole formed the word on an old name for Sri Lanka, Serendip. He explained that this name was part of the title of "a silly fairy tale, called The Three Princes of Serendip: as their highnesses travelled, they were always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things which they were not in quest of...."


(ˌsɛr ənˈdɪp ɪ təs)

of, pertaining to, or suggesting serendipity.
ser`en•dip′i•tous•ly, adv.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Adj.1.serendipitous - lucky in making unexpected and fortunate discoveries
lucky - having or bringing good fortune; "my lucky day"; "a lucky man"


adjective lucky, chance, fortuitous, unexpected, random, casual, accidental, spontaneous, unforeseen, unintentional, coincidental, unanticipated, inadvertent, unforeseeable, unlooked-for It appears to have been a serendipitous discovery made around the year 200.


[ˌsɛrənˈdɪpɪtəs] adj [discovery, event] → inespéré(e)
References in periodicals archive ?
The timing of the campaign is also serendipitous as medical experts say that the period of November to April is low-transmission season for the polio virus and thus the best time for preventive measures.
Not long ago, a serendipitous discovery of old family photographs led to a shift of focus and recent pieces primarily feature individuals - particularly women and children - as her main subject matter.
The Serendipitous Escape package is priced at $5,290, inclusive of tax & service, per person, single occupancy for the five night stay (based on six participants).
We will continue to publish thematic issues, as well as discrete sections on particular topics; but we will also be more open to emerging ideas and serendipitous findings.
While I am in no hurry to be connected, I recognize in the social media revolution a larger communication revolution that is maturing at a serendipitous time indeed.
Attorney's loss is Mitchell Williams' serendipitous gain.
Britain's Secret Treasures (ITV1, tomorrow, 8pm) [bar] THIS new series shows we are only ever a lucky dip or a serendipitous trip away from unearthing something spectacular.
People love the serendipitous discovery of new friendships; technology is now able to bring community retail back to its roots and to beat the supermarkets at human contact.
Most word mavens, including fans of the OED, have taken to online habits these days, but there's nothing like the serendipitous pleasure of reading the OED - usually with magnifying glass in hand - and happening upon unfamiliar and delightful words.
A "library" area, with original maquettes, brief videos, and ephemera Soth has collected on his journeys, offers insight into the photographer's serendipitous practice, and the catalogue includes a fortyeight-page artist's book, The Loneliest Man in Missouri.
AS almost always, Tom Slemen's celebrated contributions to your columns suggest serendipitous, if slightly skew-whiff, supplementary sentiments (ECHO, November 28).