AskDefine | Define accident

Dictionary Definition



1 a mishap; especially one causing injury or death
2 anything that happens by chance without an apparent cause [syn: fortuity, chance event]

User Contributed Dictionary



French accident, from Latin accidens, -dentis, present participle of accidere to happen; ad + cadere to fall. See cadence, case.


  • /ˈæk.sə.dənt/, /"

Extensive Definition

An accident is a specific, identifiable, unexpected, unusual and unintended external event which occurs in a particular time and place, without apparent or deliberate cause but with marked effects. It implies a generally negative probabilistic outcome which may have been avoided or prevented had circumstances leading up to the accident been recognized, and acted upon, prior to its occurrence.
Narrowly defined, the designation may refer only to the event, while not including the circumstances (facts surrounding) or results of the event; i.e., ‘accident’ is constrained to an immediate incident, the occurrence of which results in an unplanned outcome. In common use, however, ‘accident’ may include the entire interacting circumstantial framework (chance, pre-existing, or uncontrolled dynamically developing conditions; commonplace actions; random time and place; participants; etc.) leading up to, including, and resulting from, the accident's immediate occurrence. Experts in the field of injury prevention avoid use of the term "accident" because they look at these incidents from the perspective of epidemiology - predictable and preventable.
Accidents of particularly common types (auto, fire, etc.) are investigated to identify how to avoid them in the future. This is sometimes called root cause analysis, but does not generally apply to accidents that cannot be deterministically predicted. For example, a root cause of an uncommon and purely random accident may never be identified, and thus future similar accidents remain "accidental."
Physical examples include, e.g., unintended collisions or falls, being injured by touching something sharp, hot, or electrical, or ingesting poison. Non-physical examples are, e.g, unintentionally revealing a secret or otherwise saying something incorrectly, forgetting an appointment, etc.
The informal term "freak accident" typically refers to an unfortunate and improbable event that seems exceedingly unlikely to happen by chance. In extreme contexts, the term may also imply doubt, ambiguity or suspicion about an accident event's cause.
Colloquially considered negative, 'happy' accidents with positive results are also possible.
The injury prevention community strongly discourages use of the word "accident" to describe events that cause injury in attempt to highlight the predictable and preventable nature of most injuries. Preferred words are more descriptive of the event itself rather than of its unintentional nature (e.g., crash, collision, incident, drowning, fall, etc.)

External links

accident in Czech: Havárie
accident in Danish: Hændeligt uheld
accident in German: Unfall
accident in Spanish: Accidente
accident in Esperanto: Akcidento
accident in Persian: حادثه
accident in French: Accident
accident in Galician: Accidente
accident in Italian: Sinistro (assicurazione)
accident in Hebrew: תאונה
accident in Malagasy: Loza
accident in Malay (macrolanguage): Kemalangan
accident in Dutch: Ongeluk
accident in Japanese: 事故
accident in Polish: Awaria
accident in Portuguese: Acidente
accident in Romanian: Accident
accident in Russian: Авария
accident in Albanian: Fatkeqësia
accident in Sicilian: Accidenti
accident in Simple English: Accident
accident in Finnish: Vahinko
accident in Swedish: Olycka
accident in Tagalog: Aksidente
accident in Ukrainian: Аварія
accident in Yiddish: עקסידענט

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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