General English


  • noun something which happens which seems to have no cause
  • noun an unfortunate or harmful event, something causing damage


  • noun something unpleasant which can be caused by carelessness or which happens by chance such as a plane crash


  • On construction sites, a sudden unexpected event, identifiable in terms of time and place, that results in personal injury or property damage.


  • noun something unpleasant which happens suddenly, often as the result of a mistake, sometimes resulting in damage to property, injury or death


  • noun an unpleasant event which happens suddenly and harms someone’s health


  • noun physical harm or damage as a result of an error in judgement, defective equipment or bad luck

Origin & History of “accident”

Etymologically, an accident is simply ‘something which happens’ – ‘an event’. That was what the word originally meant in English, and it was only subsequently that the senses ‘something which happens by chance’ and ‘mishap’ developed. It comes from the Latin verb cadere ‘fall’ (also the source of such diverse English words as case, decadent, and deciduous). The addition of the prefix ad- ‘to’ produced accidere, literally ‘fall to’, hence ‘happen to’. Its present participle was used as an adjective in the Latin phrase rēs accidēns ‘thing happening’, and accidēns soon took on the role of a noun on its own, passing (in its stem form accident-) into Old French and thence into English.