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Accidental vs Incidental vs Adventitious

Accidental, incidental and adventitious all mean not being part of the real or essential nature of something.

What’s the difference?

Accidental retains its basic notion of chance occurrence but may also imply nonessential character.

  • The location is accidental and contributes nothing to the poem.

Incidental suggests a real, sometimes a designed, relationship but one which is secondary and nonessential.

  • The discovery was incidental to their main research.

Adventitious implies a lack of essential relationships and may suggest casual addition or irrelevance.

  • Please avoid elaborate designs with superfluous or adventitious elements.