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Alternative forms[edit]


From Middle English accidentli (by chance; temporarily; artifically), equivalent to accident +‎ -ly.


accidently (comparative more accidently, superlative most accidently)

  1. Misspelling of accidentally.
  2. (rare) By accident, unexpectedly, by chance; fortuitously, unintentionally.
    • 1899, Knut Hamsun, Hunger, translated by George Egerton, Part I, page 15
      As I arrived at the foot of the hill I overtook two ladies, whom I passed. As I did so, I brushed one of them accidently on the arm.
    • 1980, Phillip James Edwin Peebles, The Large-Scale Structure of the Universe[1] (Astrophysics), Princeton University Press, ISBN 9780691082400, page 151:
      … which arises from four galaxies at four quite different distances that accidently appear close together in the sky. The second line represents two galaxies close together in space and the other two accidently close in projection, the third line close triplets plus a fourth accidently close in projection, the fourth line two close pairs accidently seen close together in projection.
    • 1995, Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of English Usage[2], 2, reprint, revised edition, Merriam-Webster, ISBN 9780877791324, page 16:
      The spelling accidently is not an illiteracy, but it is much less frequent than accidentally, and even though it has some reputable use, it may be thought a misspelling.
    • 1998, Kenneth G. Wilson, Columbia Guide to Standard American English[3], digitized edition, MJF Books, published 2009, ISBN 9781567312676, page 8:
      Indeed, many conservative people consider accidently a misspelling, and some conservative dictionaries do not even record it as a variant, though it has been accepted off and on for many years.
    • 2011, Robert W. Shumaker, Kristina R. Walkup, Benjamin B. Beck, Gordon M. Burghardt, Animal Tool Behavior[4], 2, revised edition, JHU Press, ISBN 9780801898532, page 92:
      … relayed similar cases but suspected that the rocks were accidently dislodged as the animals fled. ... Hall (1963) considered the same data and concluded that while such behavior might originate accidently during flight or display, ...
    • 2012, Patrick R. Delaney PhD, CPA; O. Ray Whittington, Wiley CPA Exam Review 2012, Regulations[5], page 334:
      Juan accidently spills some coffee on a client during a business meeting. Juan's tort is clearly in the scope of employment.

Usage notes[edit]

In modern usage, the spelling accidently is usually considered a misspelling of accidentally.


Middle English[edit]

Alternative forms[edit]


From accident +‎ -ly


  1. by chance, by accident
    Thinges that happen accidentlych. — Cato, 1475
  2. temporarily
    He that hath goode vertues is substancially a noble man, and he that hath hem accydently maketh himself noble and is nat. — The Dicts and Sayings of the Philosophers, 1460
  3. not naturally, artificially
    It is made naturaly of defecte of materie or accidently of yuel sewing & consoldyng of þe palpebrez. — Guy de Chauliac's Grande Chirurgie, 1425


  • Middle English Dictionary, accidentli