serendipity

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ser·en·dip·i·ty

 (sĕr′ən-dĭp′ĭ-tē)
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...."

serendipity

(ˌsɛrənˈdɪpɪtɪ)
n
the faculty of making fortunate discoveries by accident
[C18: coined by Horace Walpole, from the Persian fairytale The Three Princes of Serendip, in which the heroes possess this gift]
ˌserenˈdipitous adj

ser•en•dip•i•ty

(ˌsɛr ənˈdɪp ɪ ti)

n.
1. an aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident.
2. good fortune; luck.
[1754; Serendip + -ity; Horace Walpole so named a faculty possessed by the heroes of a fairy tale called The Three Princes of Serendip]

serendipity

a talent for making fortunate discoveries while searching for other things. — serendipitous, adj.
See also: Chance
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.serendipity - good luck in making unexpected and fortunate discoveries
fluke, good fortune, good luck - a stroke of luck
Translations
sérendipité
セレンディピティ偶察力
serendipismo

serendipity

[ˌserənˈdɪpɪtɪ] Nserendipia f

serendipity

[ˌsɛrɛnˈdɪpəti] nheureux hasard m
Some of the best effects in my garden have been the result of serendipity → Certains des meilleurs effets dans mon jardin ont été le fruit d'un heureux hasard.

serendipity

nSpürsinn m (fig), → mehr Glück als Verstand

serendipity

[ˌsɛrənˈdɪpɪtɪ] n (frm) → serendipità
References in periodicals archive ?
The week of accidental discoveries that came to reveal details of previous eras is not over yet.
The author only lists seven accidental inventions, though some accidental discoveries, such as Velcro, vulcanised rubber and the Post-It note, are categorised under business and industry inventions and some such as the accidental discovery of quinine, Super Glue and X-rays do not get mentioned at all.
Can you think of other accidental discoveries that have helped make our lives easier while being environmentally efficient?
Accidental discoveries and inventions have also played a part in changing history: the discovery of the Dead Sea scrolls as a result of a wandering goat; the revelation of penicillin as a result of a specimen slide that had not been cleaned; the accidental discovery of X-rays as cathode rays were being examined; the discovery of gun powder by Taoists alchemists who were seeking for "The Elixir of Life" ...
/r/TodayILearned - This subreddit can be quite informative with users speaking about accidental discoveries of that-person-in-that-movie or simply coming across obscure facts about things or people.
Very often, one makes accidental discoveries of objects long forgotten or so well hidden that their unearthing is a joyous occasion.