Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English homepage

Date: 1300-1400
Language: French
Origin: Latin accidens 'additional quality, chance', from accidere 'to happen', from ad- 'to' + cadere 'to fall'

accident

noun
     
ac‧ci‧dent S1 W2
1

by accident

in a way that is not planned or intended [≠ on purpose, deliberately]:
I met her quite by accident. (=completely by accident)
The discovery was made almost by accident.
The pilot, whether by accident or design (=whether it was planned or not planned), made the plane do a sharp turn.
2 [countable] a crash involving cars, trains, planes etc
road/car/traffic etc accident
Over 70,000 people are killed or seriously injured every year in road accidents.
fatal/serious/tragic etc accident
a fatal accident on the freeway
The accident happened at the junction of Forest Road and Pine Walk.
accident
3 [countable] a situation in which someone is injured or something is damaged without anyone intending them to be:
Ken had an accident at work and had to go to hospital.
I'm sorry about breaking the vase - it was an accident (=I did not intend to do it).
4 [uncountable and countable] something that happens without anyone planning or intending it:
My third baby was an accident.
It is no accident that men fill most of the top jobs in nursing, while women remain on the lower grades.
an accident of birth/geography/history etc (=an event or situation caused by chance)
5

accidents (will) happen

spoken used to tell someone who has broken something that they should not worry that it has happened
6

an accident waiting to happen

used about a situation in which an accident is likely to happen because no one is trying to prevent it:
The boats are being left to drift; it's an accident waiting to happen.
WORD FOCUS: accident WORD FOCUS: accident
similar words: crash, wreck American English, pile-up, collision, disaster, catastrophe

Dictionary pictures of the day
Do you know what each of these is called?
What is the word for picture 1? What is the word for picture 2? What is the word for picture 3? What is the word for picture 4?
Click on any of the pictures above to find out what it is called.

Explore our topic dictionary