I. noun 1. an unfortunate incident that happens unexpectedly and unintentionally, typically resulting in damage or injury • he had an accident at the factory
• [ mass noun]
if you are unable to work owing to accident or sickness.
2. a crash involving road or other vehicles • four people were killed in a road accident.
‹euphemistic› an incidence of incontinence by a child or animal.
• he had a little accident, but I washed his shorts out.
4. an event that happens by chance or that is without apparent or deliberate cause • the pregnancy was an accident
it is no accident that Manchester has produced more than its fair share of professional comics.
5. [ mass noun] — the working of fortune; chance • members belong to the House of Lords through hereditary right or accident of birth.
[Philosophy] (in Aristotelian thought) a property of a thing which is not essential to its nature.
II. phrases 1. accident and emergency /ˌaksɪd(ə)nt ənd ɪˈməːrdʒ(ə)nsi /
(Brit.) a hospital department concerned with the provision of immediate treatment to people who are seriously injured in an accident or who are suddenly taken seriously ill.
2. an accident waiting to happen
‹informal› a potentially disastrous situation, typically caused by negligent or faulty procedures.
• people living near the site where the boy was crushed to death said it was an accident waiting to happen.
3. accidents will happen in the best regulated families
‹proverb› however careful you try to be, it is inevitable that some unfortunate or unforeseen events will occur
• problems like these should not occur, but accidents will happen.
4. by accident unintentionally; by chance • she didn’t get where she is today by accident.
• nomadic hunters probably ended up on the new continent by accident.
5. without accident safely • he was able to stop the train without accident.
– origin late Middle English (in the general sense ‘an event’): via Old French from Latin accident- ‘happening’, from the verb accidere, from ad- ‘towards, to’ + cadere ‘to fall’.