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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...."
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


in a serendipitous manner; fortunately; by lucky chance
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014
References in periodicals archive ?
"We actually discovered the star serendipitously," Daniel Zucker, an astronomer from Macquarie University, told ( ScienceAlert .A
Carverville's prodigal son, James, serendipitously finds work at a gentrified motel, but his homecoming soon takes a sinister turn when he and a local teenager make a gruesome discovery on the beach.
Serendipitously, my friend's dad had their album Mellon Collie & the Infinite Sadness on cassette, in his garage where we used to practise.
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Serendipitously, the relatively new financial chief at Recovery Centers of Arkansas found a remarkable similarity between chemistry and accounting.
Serendipitously, the Phoenix New Times just named the Demenna's government relations business "Best Family Business."
And those moments come when Redford's Tucker serendipitously meets the lovely but cash-strapped ranch-owner Jewel (Sissy Spacek).
Thus, Chef Iacopo is serendipitously attracted to the most organic flavours of nature.
Despite being a common and evidence-based therapy, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) -- discovered serendipitously in 1987 by a psychologist while walking in the woods -- it is unclear whether the eye movements in this treatment provide any additional benefits to patients struggling with fear-related disorders that are not readily achieved through traditional exposure therapy.
They serendipitously meander through Teleky's carefully parsed explorations and opinions of how different works of art fit into the context of cultural meaning.
"So, we were serendipitously able to look for new moons around Jupiter while at the same time looking for planets at the fringes of our Solar System," Scott S.
AN AMATEUR ASTRONOMER serendipitously captured the first flash of a supernova, providing the earliest glimpse of a stellar explosion.