Definition of incident in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈinsəd(ə)nt/


1An event or occurrence: several amusing incidents
More example sentences
  • The occurrence and magnitude of incidents related to economic, social and political instability are unpredictable.
  • Over the years Arthur has had many amusing incidents happen to him.
  • I would like to relate a recent incident that happened to one of my friends in her 30s.
event, occurrence, episode, experience, happening, occasion, proceeding, eventuality, affair, business;
adventure, exploit, escapade;
matter, circumstance, fact, development
1.1A violent event, such as a fracas or assault: one person was stabbed in the incident
More example sentences
  • The drivers claim they are at risk because of the nature of the job, and say that police have not been responding efficiently to emergency calls following assaults and violent incidents.
  • Four footballers are facing court cases arising out of two separate alleged incidents involving violent assaults.
  • Other incidents included violent disturbances, assault on a 23-year-old man, shouting threats to kill and spitting at residents.
disturbance, fracas, melee, commotion, rumpus, scene;
fight, skirmish, clash, brawl, free-for-all, encounter, conflict, ruckus, confrontation, altercation, contretemps
informal ruction
1.2A hostile clash between forces of rival countries.
Example sentences
  • During the incident, the Japanese force had total control of the skies over Shanghai.
  • A CNN crew embedded at ground forces headquarters witnessed the incident.
  • In recent weeks there have been repeated incidents in which forces have demolished homes believed to belong to members of the resistance.
1.3 (incident of) A case or instance of something happening: a single incident of rudeness does not support a finding of contemptuous conduct
More example sentences
  • There is, for instance, the true incident of a man who was shot in an American nightclub.
  • Had you heard about this incident of him falling off the roof, and having seizures in the past?
  • If this was an isolated incident of bad service, it sure happened to the wrong customer.
1.4The occurrence of dangerous or exciting things: the winter passed without incident
More example sentences
  • The lives of fictional private detectives tend to be action-packed, dangerous and full of incident.
  • Such anticipation as I had was more pleasure than pain, and the event itself passed without drama or incident.
  • The first meeting passed off without incident.
excitement, adventure, drama;
danger, peril
1.5A distinct piece of action in a play or a poem.
Example sentences
  • I wanted the incidents in my narrative poems to be just incidents, to have the same kind of clarity and simplicity.
  • In the world of both poets, there are plenty of laughs, plenty of wonderfully droll incidents and narratives, but finally, there is the recognition that space is a place.
  • It is one of a number of crucial incidents in Frank's narrative where he finds himself perilously close to the seductions of various kinds of storytelling.


1 [predicative] (incident to) Likely to happen because of; resulting from: the changes incident to economic development
More example sentences
  • It is true if and only if the first argument is incident to the second.
1.1 Law Attaching to: the costs properly incident to a suit for foreclosure or redemption
More example sentences
  • Covenants, obligations and liabilities incident to the estate.
  • The appellate court reversed, saying the search was lawful because it was incident to the arrest of the passenger.
2(Especially of light or other radiation) falling on or striking something: when an ion beam is incident on a surface
More example sentences
  • The net effect is the diffraction of the incident radiation by the array of molecules.
  • There is a resonant interaction of the incident light with the surface plasmons on both surfaces of the metal film.
  • The intensity of all monochromatic incident light was kept close using neutral density filters.
2.1Relating to incidence: the incident angle
More example sentences
  • Note that the incident angle is the angle between the laser beam and the normal to the interface.
  • The sample chamber could be rotated to alter the incident angle for both reflective and transmissive diffraction.
  • Compressive force on the platelet, on the other hand, is a function of both the incident angle and shear rate.


On the difference between incidents and incidence, see incidence (usage).


Late Middle English: via Old French from Latin incident- 'falling upon, happening to', from the verb incidere, from in- 'upon' + cadere 'to fall'.

  • accident from Late Middle English:

    An accident was originally ‘an event, something that happens’, not necessarily a mishap. It came into English via Old French, ultimately from Latin cadere, meaning ‘to fall’, which also gave us words such as cadaver (Late Middle English) ‘someone fallen’, chance, decay (Late Middle English) ‘fall away’, incident (Late Middle English) ‘fall upon’ so ‘happen’; and occasion (Late Middle English). The idea of an event ‘falling’ remains in the English word befall (Old English). Later the meaning of accident evolved into ‘something that happens by chance’, as in the phrase a happy accident. By the 17th century the modern meaning had become established in the language. The full form of the proverb accidents will happen, which dates from the early 19th century, is accidents will happen in the best-regulated families. According to Mr Micawber in Charles Dickens's David Copperfield (1850): ‘Accidents will occur in the best-regulated families; and in families not regulated by…the influence of Woman, in the lofty character of Wife, they must be expected with confidence, and must be borne with philosophy.’ See also adventure

Words that rhyme with incident


For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: in·ci·dent

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