(Arabic: the gift of finding interesting things by chance; the faculty of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for; an apparent talent for making fortunate discoveries accidentally)
The term was coined by Royston M. Roberts as stated in his book Serendipity, Accidental Discoveries in Science, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York, 1989 (Introduction, pages x-xi).
3. The accidental discovery of a way or ways to achieve an end that was sought for.
Pseudoserendipity with details about its origin.
2. Good; beneficial; favorable: "It was serendipitous weather for the neighbor's trip to Italy."
It was pure serendipity that the group found a water well when they were hiking in the desert.2. An unexpected success in achieving a pleasant, valuable, or useful result: For a moment, Sally's mother thought she had achieved a serendipity because, while she was digging in the garden, a fountain of water suddenly shot up; however, unfortunately she had only punctured a buried water pipe.
3. An apparent ability for producing some fortunate consequences: Leonore was boiling peaches and suddenly exclaimed, "I must possess serendipity because I've invented peach jam".
4. Etymology: Serendip, Serendib, former name for Ceylon (modern Sri Lanka); from Arabic Sarandib plus English -ity; from the possession of the gift by the heroes of the Persian fairy tale The Three Princes of Serendip who "were always making discoveries, unexpectedly by accident and sagacity, of things they were not in quest of".
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Serendipity has become a significant word entry in English vocabulary!
The term made its first American dictionary appearance in Webster's New International Dictionary in 1909 and has often been linked with "an accidental or chance discovery".
It was in the 1930s when Walter Cannon of Harvard Medical School used the word to refer to the phenomenon of accidental discovery in scientific research. Then in 1946, sociologist Robert K. Merton and the historian Elinor Barber in The Travels and Adventures of Serendipity: A Study in Sociological Semantics and the Sociology of Science presented the concept of the "serendipity pattern" in empirical research, "of observing an unanticipated, anomalous, and strategic datum, which becomes the occasion for developing a new theory."
"I once read 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: for instance, one of them discovered that a mule blind of the right eye had travelled the same road lately, because the grass was eaten only on the left side, where it was worse than on the right—now do you understand serendipity?"
Serendipity is finding what you want when you don't want it by looking where it wouldn't be if you did want it.