Technically, falls are the only real accidents. Collisions and mishaps? Forget those. The word accident entered English in the 1300s CE. This is from the 1100s CE Old French term accident, from Latin accidentem, or "misfortune". This is a conjugated form of accidens, which is a conjugated form of accidere, a word that meant "to fall on" or "fall out of". Now we can remove the obvious suffix ad (which means "toward" and is from Proto-Indo-European ad, "near" or "at"). The root of the word accidere is cadere, which meant "fall". This is from the hypothesized Proto-Italic word kado, from the even-more-hypothesized Proto-Indo-European term khd, also defined as "fall" with secondary definitions of "to make something fall" and "to lay out" (for those interested in the dialects of southwestern England, this is also the root of the Cornish word for "hail", keser). I wonder whether the origin of this word happened on purpose or by accident.
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a senior studying government and linguistics at Harvard University, where I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.