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If something is accidental it happens by chance. That’s not surprising seeing as though an accident is something that happens by chance. It sort of follows, doesn’t it?

This isn’t rocket science, people. However, seeing as though the dictionary writer and editor saw a need for separate entries for accidental and accident, I assume that there are people out there who don’t get this stuff. Maybe they were sick that day during the first grade.

A synonym for accidental is serendipitous, but I’m guessing that if you don’t know what accidental means you won’t know what serendipitous means either. In all likelihood, the only way I’m going to get to serendipitous as I work through commenting on every word in the dictionary in alphabetical order is if there is an afterlife and it has Mac computers (what else would they have in the afterlife?) and an internet connection. I’m thinking probably not. Sorry about that. You’ll have to consult another source for a definition of serendipitous.

You’ll occasionally hear people jokingly refer to an action as being “accidentally on purpose.”

This usually means that the speaker wanted someone else to believe that the speaker did something by accident, when in fact it was done on purpose. For example, Sharon might say to her friend Nancy, “I accidentally on purpose forgot to go to the date on Friday night with that jerk, Joel.” Both Sharon and Nancy have stood me up often and they always pretended that they simply forgot. It’s not easy being me.

Despite the fact that “accidentally on purpose” is normally said sarcastically or otherwise in jest, I was convinced that there must be a way to interpret “accidentally on purpose” such that something could indeed be done accidentally on purpose.

I was going to try to come up with an example of this, i.e. a situation where the protagonist accidentally triggered an intentional outcome, but then I remembered that nobody is reading these entries so I figured it wasn’t worth my time to put in the effort necessary to come up with an example.

But enough about that. In addition to the “happening by chance” definition, accidental can also mean incidental, i.e., a minor part of something.

Accidental also has another meaning in music. In that context it is a noun, not an adjective, meaning a sign that indicates the raising or lowering of a note to create a small deviation from the normal signature.

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