Definition of accidental in English:


Syllabification: ac·ci·den·tal
Pronunciation: /ˌaksiˈdentl


  • 2Incidental; subsidiary: the location is accidental and contributes nothing to the tension between the characters in the poem
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    • Incidental and accidental speech tones and pacing aren't a consideration in this sort of exercise. Clarity is all.
    • So, differences can be accepted only as secondary or accidental characteristics of persons.
    • If so, isn't it possible that art is in decline not as part of some grand narrative, but as a accidental and possibly fleeting phenomenon?
    incidental, unimportant, by the way, by the by, supplementary, subsidiary, subordinate, secondary, accessory, peripheral, tangential, extraneous, extrinsic, irrelevant, nonessential, inessential
  • 3 Philosophy (In Aristotelian thought) relating to or denoting properties that are not essential to a thing’s nature.
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    • It is customary, both in everyday speech and in philosophical discussion, to distinguish between the essential and the accidental properties of objects.
    • Thus in Aristotle's view, there are accidental phenomena in nature, and they are not subject to scientific knowledge.
    • Clarke steadfastly maintained that matter has neither an essential nor an accidental power of self-motion.


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  • 1 Music A sign indicating a momentary departure from the key signature by raising or lowering a note.
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    • Students learn to move out of position, cross over, play scale patterns and deal with accidentals, eighth notes, harmonic intervals, switching melody between hands and playing hands together.
    • Successful performance of this work requires a moderate to advanced sense of lyrical line, fluid mastery of third octave fingerings and a working knowledge of accidentals, including double sharps (x).
    • Some composers frequently add bracketed accidentals in order to clarify complicated passages or chords.
  • 2 Ornithology another term for vagrant.
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    • I would hope that accidentals like the Black-necked Stork and Yellow-fronted Canary are safe regardless of existing legislation.



More example sentences
  • Going home from work in Oxford last night I accidentally got on the Bristol train by mistake.
  • I don't know if she accidentally picked up the phone or deliberately did that.
  • Very drunk, he accidentally pushed her with his kit bag, knocking her off the path and into the river Cam.


late Middle English (in sense 2 of the adjective and sense 3 of the adjective): from late Latin accidentalis, from Latin accident- 'happening' (see accident).

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Word of the day coloratura
Pronunciation: ˌkələrəˈto͝orə
elaborate ornamentation of a vocal melody