(1)   Without intention (especially resulting from heedless action)
"With an inadvertent gesture she swept the vase off the table"
"Accidental poisoning"
"An accidental shooting"
(2)   Associated by chance and not an integral part
"Poetry is something to which words are the accidental, not by any means the essential form"- Frederick W. Robertson
"They had to decide whether his misconduct was adventitious or the result of a flaw in his character"
(3)   Occurring or appearing or singled out by chance
"Their accidental meeting led to a renewal of their friendship"
"Seek help from casual passers-by"
"A casual meeting"
"A chance occurrence"


(4)   A musical notation that makes a note sharp or flat or natural although that is not part of the key signature


  1. Happening by chance, or unexpectedly; taking place not according to the usual course of things; casual; fortuitous
    an accidental visit
  2. Nonessential; not necessary belonging; incidental
    are accidental to a play
  3. Foreign to the key signature or a proper harmony.
  4. unintentional; by accident

Usage notes

  • We speak of a thing as accidental when it falls out as by chance, and not in the regular course of things; as, an accidental meeting, an accidental advantage, etc.
  • We call a thing incidental when it falls, as it were, into some regular course of things, but is secondary, and forms no essential part thereof; as, an incidental remark, an incidental evil, an incidental benefit.
  • We speak of a thing as casual, when it falls out or happens, as it were, by mere chance, without being prearranged or premeditated; as, a casual remark or encounter; a casual observer. An idea of the unimportant is attached to what is casual.
  • Fortuitous is applied to what occurs without any known cause, and in opposition to what has been foreseen; as, a fortuitous concourse of atoms.
  • We call a thing contingent when it is such that, considered in itself, it may or may not happen, but is dependent for its existence on something else; as, the time of my coming will be contingent on intelligence yet to be received.



  1. A property which is not essential; a nonessential; anything happening accidentally.
    • Fuller — He conceived it just that accidentals ... should sink with the substance of the accusation.
  2. Those fortuitous effects produced by luminous rays falling on certain objects so that some parts stand forth in abnormal brightness and other parts are cast into a deep shadow.
  3. A sharp, flat, or natural, occurring not at the commencement of a piece of music as the signature, but before a particular note.