A Word A Day : Fortuitous

Sunday, 27th January 2008 : Today's Word is ...


( Adjective )

Pronunciation : fawr-to-itess

1. happening by chance, especially giving rise to a fortunate outcome

2. bringing or indicating good fortune

3. happening by a fortunate accident or chance

4. accidental or unplanned


Mid-17th century - Latin fortuitus - fors - chance, luck


Fortuitous means accidental or unplanned as in:

• This is nothing but a fortuitous encounter with my old roommate of 30 years ago, whom I hadn't seen since graduation.

Nowadays, it is frequently used in contexts where the chance event described has a fortunate outcome. An extended meaning lucky used in English at least since the 1920s is controversial. Substitute fortunate for fortuitous when the meaning is lucky:

• In a fortunate [not fortuitous] turn of events, the lost package was found and handed in by a passer-by.


accidental, arbitrary, casual, chance, contingent, fluke, fluky, fortunate, haphazard, happy, incidental, luck in, luck out, lucky dog, odd, providential, random, serendipitous, unforeseen, unplanned


1. Accidental stresses chance. Fortuitous so strongly suggests chance that it often connotes absence of cause.

2. Aleatory refers to the present or future while fortuitous is more about past events.


predictable, unlucky, designed, intended, intentional, planned, premeditated, determined, directed, focused, goal-oriented, guided, motivated, pointed, purposeful, resolute

Contextual Examples:

• After their hard work, they knew that it was not merely fortuitous that they got a good grade on the project.

• The bold attempt had miscarried by a fortuitous circumstance. And unless by some exceptional event, they could now never reach the moon's disc.

• The program's outcome was not the result of any plan but was entirely fortuitous.

• The object was so perfectly formed that its creation could not have been fortuitous.

Related Words:

fortuitousness : Noun

fortuitously : Adverb

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