unforeseen event that causes damage to a person or property

An accident is a specific, unpredictable, unusual and unintended external action which occurs in a particular time and place, with no apparent and deliberate cause but with marked effects. It implies a generally negative outcome which may have been avoided or prevented had circumstances leading up to the accident been recognized, and acted upon, prior to its occurrence. However, an unexpected boon may also be referred to as a "happy accident".


  • ACCIDENT, n. An inevitable occurrence due to the action of immutable natural laws.
    • Ambrose Bierce, The Cynic's Dictionary (1906); republished as The Devil's Dictionary (1911).
  • Chapter of accidents.
    • Edmund Burke, Notes for Speeches (Edition 1852), Volume II, p. 426.
  • Great discoveries are made accidentally less often than the populace likes to think.
    • William Cecil Dampier (commenting on how an accident led to the discovery of X-rays), A History of Science and Its Relations with Philosophy and Religion (1931), 882.
  • To what happy accident is it that we owe so unexpected a visit?
  • Our wanton accidents take root, and grow
    To vaunt themselves God's laws.
  • Nichts unter der Sonne ist Zufall—am wenigsten das wovon die Absicht so klar in die Augen leuchtet.
  • At first laying down, as a fact fundamental,
    That nothing with God can be accidental.
  • By many a happy accident.
  • Was der Ameise Vernunft mühsam zu Haufen schleppt, jagt in einem Hui der Wind des Zufalls zusammen.
  • The accident of an accident.
  • While this wasn’t the first accident involving a self-driving car, it was the first time the car was found to be at fault. Yes, the car was at fault.
  • The chapter of accidents is the longest chapter in the book.
    • Attributed to John Wilkes by Robert Southey, The Doctor (1837), Chapter CXVIII; reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 4.
  • History has a way of reducing individuals to flat, two-dimensional portraits. it is the enemy of subjectivity, which is why Stephen Dedalus called it "a nightmare from which I am trying to awake". If we think of Kierkegaard, of Nietzsche, of Hölderlin, we see them standing alone, outside of history. They are spotlighted by their intensity, and the background is all darkness. They intersect history, but are not a part of it. There is something anti-history about such men; they are not subject to time, accident and death, but their intensity is a protest against it. I have elsewhere called such men "Outsiders" because they attempt to stand outside history. which defines humanity on terms of limitation, not of possibility.
    • Colin Wilson in Rasputin and the Fall of the Romanovs, p. 13-14 (1964)
Wikipedia has an article about: