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(whether) by accident or design
Intentionally or not. Whether by accident or design, those high school kids have really created a solid, sustainable business. By accident or design, that new horror movie isn't even scary. Maybe they wanted to ensure it had a PG rating. All that matters is that you somehow solved the problem—who cares if it was by accident or design?
a chapter of accidents
A situation or series of events characterized by multiple problems or mishaps. Primarily heard in UK, Australia. Despite all of our planning, the birthday party was a chapter of accidents. Their business was a chapter of accidents by the end, with orders constantly being confused, employees arriving at the wrong time, and the financial accounts being all over the place. Oh boy, our honeymoon was a chapter of accidents, starting with three days of torrential rain and ending with a canceled flight and a night spent at the airport.
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. Well, you can't choose your parents—that's an accident of birth as much as anything else. These kids do not deserve to spend their childhoods in a war-torn country—they're there simply through a sad accident of birth.
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. I know that accidents happen, but I still can't believe he broke my vase!
accidents will happen in the best of families
proverb 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. I know that accidents will happen in the best of families, but I still can't believe he backed into my car! Oh, it's all right, accidents will happen in the best of families. This was just a $10 vase anyway, not some priceless heirloom! I know you didn't mean to spill your juice, sweetheart—accidents will happen in the best of families.
accidents will happen in the best regulated families
proverb 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. I know that accidents will happen in the best regulated families, but I still can't believe he backed into my car! Oh, it's all right, accidents will happen in the best regulated families. This was just a $10 vase anyway, not some priceless heirloom! I know you didn't mean to spill your juice, sweetheart—accidents will happen in the best regulated families.
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. Did you really just bring three rambunctious boys into an antique store with you? That's just an accident waiting to happen!
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.
Mistakenly or unintentionally. Uh oh, I must have left those files out by accident. Many great scientific discoveries happened entirely by 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.
have an accident
1. To unintentionally do or experience something, usually with unpleasant consequences. Yeah, I had a little accident while trying to carry all those drinks. Can you bring me some towels? Did you hear that Aunt Marie had an accident and broke her foot?
2. To urinate or defecate somewhere other than a toilet. Can you call the janitor? The patient in this hospital room has had an accident.
more by accident than (by) design
Due more to coincidence or luck than to one's own skill or planning. To be honest, I feel like the massive popularity of the app is more by accident than by design. A: "This stew is delicious!" B: "Thanks, but it's really more by accident than design."
more by accident than (by) judgment
Due more to coincidence or luck than to one's own skill or planning. To be honest, I feel like the massive popularity of the app is more by accident than by judgment. A: "This stew is delicious!" B: "Thanks, but it's really more by accident than judgment."
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
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.
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.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
an accident waiting to happen
1. If you describe a situation or activity as an accident waiting to happen, you mean that they are likely to be a cause of danger in the future. A lot of the city's buildings are accidents waiting to happen. The sudden explosion of a real bullet on stage during the play was an accident waiting to happen.
2. If you describe a person as an accident waiting to happen, you mean that they are likely to cause trouble or have bad problems. He was getting a reputation for being wild — an accident waiting to happen.
accidents will happen
People say accidents will happen to mean that accidents are a normal part of life and you should not blame anyone or be too upset about them. One of the things our society will not appreciate is that accidents will happen. We still look for meaning when pointless tragedy occurs.
a chapter of accidentsBRITISH, FORMAL
If you talk about a chapter of accidents, you mean a series of unlucky events. Luckily for him, few people were witness to this chapter of accidents. In fiction, however, such a chapter of accidents can end up seeming comic. Note: This expression has been used many times by various writers. One of the earliest uses is `the chapter of accidents is the longest chapter in the book', the book being the story of a person's life or a record of a particular event.
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012
an accident waiting to happen1 a potentially disastrous situation, usually caused by negligent or faulty procedures. 2 a person certain to cause trouble.
1 1997 Times Accidents are often said to be ‘waiting to happen’. It does not take much imagination to see that the chaotic start to the Whitbread round-the-world race…could easily have ended in tragedy.
accidents will happenhowever careful you try to be, it is inevitable that some unfortunate or unforeseen events will occur.
This phrase is a shortened form of the early 19th-century proverb ‘accidents will happen in the best regulated families’.
a chapter of accidentsa series of unfortunate events.
This expression was apparently coined by Lord Chesterfield in a letter to Solomon Dayrolles in 1753 : ‘The chapter of knowledge is a very short, but the chapter of accidents is a very long one’.
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
by ˈaccidentin a way that is not planned or organized: We met by accident at the airport. ♢ Helen got into acting purely by accident.
(whether) by ˌaccident or deˈsignif you say that something happens by accident or design, you mean that you do not know if it has been planned or not: Mary was wearing the same T-shirt as me — whether by accident or design, I never knew.
ˌaccidents will ˈhappen(saying) said when a small accident has happened, for example when something has been broken, to show that you do not consider it to be serious, or to excuse yourself for causing it: ‘I’m so sorry, I’ve just broken a plate.’ ‘Oh, never mind, accidents will happen.’
a ˌchapter of ˈaccidentsa series of unlucky events or mistakes in a short period of time: The reorganization of the company has been a chapter of accidents!
an ˌaccident/a diˌsaster waiting to ˈhappena thing or person that is very likely to cause danger or a problem in the future because of the condition it is in or the way they behave: For many months local residents had been complaining that the building was unsafe, and that it was an accident waiting to happen.
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
accident waiting to happen, an
A recipe for disaster. The phrase is used for such diverse circumstances as a large pothole causing an auto accident, an airplane flight on a collision course, or a small leak that ends in a billion-dollar oil spill like that in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. It appears in the lyrics of several popular songs, such as the one quoted above.
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer