What is the meaning of ‘serendipity’?

First, let’s deal with the pronunciation. The ‘e’ in the first syllable sounds like the ‘e’ in ‘set’, ‘bet’, and ‘get’, while the ‘e’ in the second is like the ‘a’ in ‘china’. The ‘i’ in the third and fourth syllables and the final ‘y’ are pronounced like the ‘i’ in ‘sit’, ‘bit’, and ‘hit’. The word is pronounced ‘serendipiti’, with the stress on the third syllable ‘di’.


Sometimes, we make rather fortunate discoveries by sheer accident. This lucky tendency that some people have to find interesting or valuable things by chance is called ‘serendipity’. The word is considered formal, and is mostly used in literary contexts.


*According to the artist, some of the best effects in his garden have been the result of serendipity.


‘Serendip’ is the old Persian name for Sri Lanka. In the fairy tale, ‘The Three Princes of Serendip’, the main characters make wonderful discoveries by chance. The American writer, Horace Walpole, coined the word ‘serendipity’ in 1754 in a letter he wrote to his friend.


Source: “The Hindu”   – Know Your English  Column –  March 11, 2008