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Serendipity is the act of making a discovery by accident.

The most famous example is probably the discovery of penicillin. Alexander Fleming returned from a vacation to find penicillin molds had killed bacteria that Fleming had neglected to disinfect.

The meaning of serendipity has expanded in modern usage to include generally fortunate accidents. John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale starred in a movie called Serendipity, in which Beckinsale's character relied on fortunate accidents, treating them as a sign of what should be.

The term was coined by English author Horace Walpole in a letter of January 28, 1754 in which he wrote "this discovery, indeed, is almost of that kind which I call Serendipity, a very expressive word." Traced from Persian Sarandip, and Arabic Sarandib, Walpole formed the word on an old name for Sri Lanka, Serendip. He explained that this name was part of the title of a "silly fairy tale", called The Three Princes of Serendip. As their highnesses travelled, they were always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things which they were not in quest of.

Not only is the term applied to the faculty of making fortunate discoveries by accident, it is also used where a series of three, or "hat trick", is similarly an outcome. A serendipitous result is one characterized by serendipity. Someone who has a habit of finding things by serendipity is a serendipper, while a person who acknowledges, believes, and hopes in serendipity is a serendipitist. (wiki.answers.com)


Published:Mar 6th 2013
Modified:Mar 6th 2013

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