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An accident is a specific, unpredictable, unusual and unintended external action which occurs in a particular time and place, with no apparent and deliberate cause but with marked effects. It implies a generally negative outcome which may have been avoided or prevented had circumstances leading up to the accident been recognized, and acted upon, prior to its occurrence. However, an unexpected boon may also be referred to as a "happy accident".


  • Chapter of accidents.
    • Edmund Burke, Notes for Speeches (Edition 1852), Volume II, p. 426.
  • To what happy accident is it that we owe so unexpected a visit?
  • Our wanton accidents take root, and grow
    To vaunt themselves God's laws.
  • Nichts unter der Sonne ist Zufall—am wenigsten das wovon die Absicht so klar in die Augen leuchtet.
    • Nothing under the sun is accidental, least of all that of which the intention is so clearly evident.
    • Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, Emilia Galotti (1772), IV, 3.
  • At first laying down, as a fact fundamental,
    That nothing with God can be accidental.
  • By many a happy accident.
  • Tyr: What would you like, Jaguar?
Charlemagne: The usual: Hundreds of grandchildren, utter domination of known space, and the pleasure of hearing that all my enemies have died in terrible, highly improbable accidents that cannot be connected to me. And you?
  • Was der Ameise Vernunft mühsam zu Haufen schleppt, jagt in einem Hui der Wind des Zufalls zusammen.
  • I have shot mine arrow o'er the house
    And hurt my brother.
  • The accident of an accident.
  • The chapter of accidents is the longest chapter in the book.
    • Attributed to John Wilkes by Robert Southey, The Doctor (1837), Chapter CXVIII; reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 4.
  • History has a way of reducing individuals to flat, two-dimensional portraits. it is the enemy of subjectivity, which is why Stephen Dedalus called it "a nightmare from which I am trying to awake". If we think of Kierkegaard, of Nietzsche, of Hölderlin, we see them standing alone, outside of history. They are spotlighted by their intensity, and the background is all darkness. They intersect history, but are not a part of it. There is something anti-history about such men; they are not subject to time, accident and death, but their intensity is a protest against it. I have elsewhere called such men "Outsiders" because they attempt to stand outside history. which defines humanity on terms of limitation, not of possibility.
    • Colin Wilson in Rasputin and the Fall of the Romanovs, p. 13-14 (1964)

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