accidental /aksɪˈdɛnt(ə)l/


I. adjective

1. happening by chance, unintentionally, or unexpectedly

a verdict of accidental death
the damage might have been accidental.
2. incidental; subsidiary

the location is accidental and contributes nothing to the poem.
[Philosophy] (in Aristotelian thought) relating to or denoting properties which are not essential to a thing’s nature.
II. noun

[Music] a sign indicating a momentary departure from the key signature by raising or lowering a note.

horn parts are usually written without key signature, the necessary accidentals being added.
[Ornithology] another term for vagrant.
– origin late Middle English (in sense 2 of the adjective and sense 3 of the adjective): from late Latin accidentalis, from Latin accident- ‘happening’ (see accident).

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