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Accidental vs Fortuitous vs Casual vs Contingent

Accidental, fortuitous, casual and contingent all mean happening by chance.

Accidental stresses chance or unexpected occurrence.

  • I didn’t think our meeting was accidental─he must have known I would be there.
  • The jury returned a verdict of accidental death.

Fortuitous so strongly suggests chance that it often connotes entire absence of cause. (see also: Fortuitous vs Fortunate )

  • Their success is the result of a fortuitous combination of circumstances.

Casual stresses lack of real or apparent premeditation or intent.

  • It was just a casual remark─I wasn’t really serious.

Contingent suggests possibility of happening but stresses uncertainty and dependence on other future events.

  • All payments are contingent upon satisfactory completion dates.