Merriam-Webster Word of the Day: Fortuitous

The Merriam-Webster Word of the Day is fortuitous. Read on for what it means, how it’s used, and more.

What It Means

Fortuitous means “happening by chance.” It can also mean “having or showing good luck.”

// It was rather fortuitous that the two sisters both decided to surprise their parents with a visit on the same weekend.

// Thank goodness you’re here; you could not have arrived at a more fortuitous time.


“Shigesato Itoi’s journey to becoming a video game creator was a labyrinthine and fortuitous one, a strange tale that took him from novelist to voice actor in My Neighbor Totoro, and beyond.” — Aidan Moher,, 29 Sept. 2022

Did You Know?

For its first 250 years, until the early part of the 20th century, fortuitous meant one thing only: “happening by chance.” This was no accident; its Latin forebear, fortuitus, shares the same ancient root as fors, the Latin word for “chance.” But the fact that fortuitous sounds like a blend of fortunate and felicitous (“happily suited to an occasion”) likely led to a second meaning of “fortunate, lucky,” with the seeds of the newer sense perhaps planted by writers applying overtones of good fortune to something that is a random occurrence. The “lucky” use has been disparaged by critics, but it is now well established. Irregardless (cough), employing this sense in sterner company may be considered chancy.

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