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accident of birth

Any and all particulars surrounding one's birth (physical characteristics, social background, and even nationality) that are considered a result of parentage and the specific circumstances of birth, and are therefore entirely out of one's control. My poverty when I was young was merely an accident of birth; through hard work and determination, I was able to overcome it and lead a successful life.
See also: accident, birth, of

happy accident

A mistake or unplanned event that results in a beneficial outcome or pleasant surprise. The creation of penicillin was a happy accident that resulted from Alexander Fleming's discovery of mold growing in his agar plates.
See also: accident, happy

an accident waiting to happen

A person, thing, or situation that appears to be imminently dangerous or troublesome. Often but not always used somewhat humorously. Don't leave that ladder in the middle of the yard, it's just an accident waiting to happen! My toddler is starting to walk now, and she is just an accident waiting to happen.
See also: accident, happen, waiting

be a chapter of accidents

To be characterized by multiple problems or mishaps. Primarily heard in UK, Australia. Despite all of our planning, the birthday party was a chapter of accidents.
See also: accident, chapter, of

accidents (will) happen

Mishaps and setbacks are just a natural and inevitable part of life. This phrase is often said in an attempt to comfort someone after an accident has happened. A: "I am so sorry that I backed into your car!" B: "That's OK, accidents will happen." I know you didn't mean to spill your juice, sweetheart—accidents happen.
See also: accident, happen

(whether) by accident or design

Intentionally or not. Whether by accident or design, those high school kids have really created a solid, sustainable business.
See also: accident, design

Accidents will happen.

Prov. It is impossible to completely prevent things from going wrong. (Often used to console someone who has made a mistake or caused an accident.) Child: Mommy, I spilled grape juice all over the carpet! Mother: Don't cry, honey. Accidents will happen. Jill: I'm so embarrassed. I was just tapping on your window to wake you up. I didn't mean to break it. Jane: Accidents will happen.
See also: Accident, happen, will

have an accident

1. to experience something that was not foreseen or intended. Traffic is very bad. I almost had an accident. Drive carefully. Try to avoid having an accident.
2. Euph. to lose control of the bowels or the bladder. (Usually said of a young child.) "Oh, Ann," cried Mother. "It looks like you've had an accident!" Mother asked Billy to go to the bathroom before they left so that he wouldn't have an accident in the car.
See also: accident, have

an accident waiting to happen

a very dangerous situation in which an accident is very likely The speed that people drive along this road, it's an accident waiting to happen.
See also: accident, happen, waiting

(whether) by accident or design

whether intended to be this way or not The system, whether by accident or design, benefits people who live in the cities more than people who live in the country.
See also: accident, design

more by accident than (by) design

because of luck and not because of skill I kicked the ball and, more by accident than design, it found its way into the net.
See also: accident, design, more

accidents will happen

something that you say in order to make someone feel less guilty when they have just damaged something that does not belong to them Oh well, accidents will happen. I can always buy another bowl.
See also: accident, happen, will

be a chapter of accidents

  (British & Australian formal)
to be a series of unpleasant events The whole trip was a chapter of accidents.
See also: accident, chapter, of

a happy accident

a pleasant situation or event that is not planned or intended We never planned to have a third child - it was a happy accident.
See also: accident, happy
References in classic literature ?
Having completed them to my satisfaction, I again looked toward the time-piece and was half inclined to believe in the possibility of odd accidents when I found that, instead of my ordinary fifteen or twenty minutes, I had been dozing only three; for it still wanted seven and twenty of the appointed hour.
They will charge him four dollars and twenty cents a year on a thousand-dollar accident policy, and for the same policy they will charge a laborer fifteen dollars.
I worked seventeen years in them mills, an' I've took notice that most of the accidents happens just before whistle-blow.
A little later in our conversation I asked him a simple little question about the liability of workingmen to accidents, and received a statistical lecture in return.
The figures have been gathered, and it has been proved conclusively that accidents rarely occur in the first hours of the morning work, but that they increase rapidly in the succeeding hours as the workers grow tired and slower in both their muscular and mental processes.
It's a sore thing to do between such near friends; but if I get the dirdum[23] of this dreadful accident, I'll have to fend for myself, man.
In the fewest words, the Sergeant showed them the evidence of the footmarks, and told them that a fatal accident must have happened to her.
The Sergeant turned to me, and said that the accident must have happened on the side of the quicksand.
If she slipped, by accident, from off the Spit, she fell in where there's foothold at the bottom, at a depth that would barely cover her to the waist.
It returneth only, it cometh home to me at last--mine own Self, and such of it as hath been long abroad, and scattered among things and accidents.
As a spokesperson for the Los Angeles car accident lawyer firm noted, people who have been involved in a simple fender bender up to those who are victims of much more catastrophic accidents can get the legal assistance and advice they need at Car Accident Lawyer Pros.
The accident happened on Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Road when a pick-up truck on the way to Abu Dhabi was involved in a collision with a truck
Tony McKeown, sales and marketing director at CRASH Services, explains: "One in 10 local motorists is involved in an accident each year, which means there are more than 2,000 vehicles involved in accidents in Northern Ireland every week.
East Main and Lyman streets, accident with property damage.
Aviation Safety Network yesterday said that the 27 fatal airline accidents that resulted in 888 deaths during 2006 were "significantly lower" than the 10-year average of 36 accidents and 1,005 fatalities but that the number of "loss of control" accidents was a "noteworthy" statistic.