accident of birth

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accident of birth (plural accidents of birth)

  1. (idiomatic) A fact, situation, or personal characteristic, which may be desirable or undesirable, resulting from the circumstances into which a person was born, and which is therefore entirely beyond their control.
    • 1899, Charles W. Chesnutt, "Uncle Wellington's Wives" in The Wife of his Youth and Other Stories:
      [H]e said to himself that he was a very good-looking man, and could have adorned a much higher sphere in life than that in which the accident of birth had placed him.
    • 1910, William MacLeod Raine, chapter 4, in A Texas Ranger:
      "You're no brother of mine," she broke in. "At most it is an accident of birth I disown. I'll have no relationship with you of any sort."
    • 1915, Rex Ellingwood Beach, chapter 9, in Heart of the Sunset:
      An accident of birth had made him a citizen of the United States—his father having owned a ranch which lay north instead of south of the Rio Grande.