ser·​en·​dip·​i·​ty ˌser-ən-ˈdi-pə-tē How to pronounce serendipity (audio)
: the faculty or phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for
also : an instance of this

Frequently Asked Questions

Are serendipity and fate related?

Serendipity and fate differ in meaning in a number of important ways. The former is defined as "the faculty or phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for," and while fate likewise may be concerned with "something that happens to a person," it need not be (in fact, often is not) pleasant. Among the meanings of fate are "an inevitable and often adverse outcome, condition, or end," "final outcome," and "the circumstances that befall someone or something."

What is the difference between serendipity and luck?

There is considerable similarity between luck and serendipity, but there are also settings in which one word might be more apt than the other. Serendipity has a fairly narrow meaning, one that is concerned with finding pleasing things that one had not been looking for, while luck has a somewhat broader range (with meanings such as "a force that brings good fortune or adversity," "success," and "the events or circumstances that operate for or against an individual"). One might easily be said to have luck that is bad, which one would not say of serendipity.

How is serendipity used in other parts of speech?

Serendipity is a noun, coined in the middle of the 18th century by author Horace Walpole (he took it from the Persian fairy tale The Three Princes of Serendip). The adjective form is serendipitous, and the adverb is serendipitously. A serendipitist is "one who finds valuable or agreeable things not sought for."

Examples of serendipity in a Sentence

As they leapfrog from South Africa to Singapore in search of local delicacies, the authors prove again and again that serendipity is the traveler's strongest ally: many of their most memorable meals issue from the hands of generous strangers … Sarah Karnasiewicz, Saveur, June/July 2008
If reporters fail to keep these files, they seldom luck into bigger stories. Their investigative work typically happens only by design—analyzing the news, for instance—not by serendipity. Michael J. Bugeja, Editor & Publisher, 13 Jan. 2003
A week earlier, the doctor would have had no recourse but to make an incision in the baby's skin to get to a vein—a precarious option now, since time was running short and it would take nearly half an hour to assemble the necessary equipment. But in an extraordinary bit of serendipity, Hanson had attended a seminar on emergency medical care for children just a week before. David Ruben, Parenting, December/January 1996
They found each other by pure serendipity.
Recent Examples on the Web Five Game-Changing Female Athletes Share what Billie Jean King Means to Them Coco Gauff There was a sparkle of serendipity in the air when Coco Gauff won her first Grand Slam at the 2023 US Open. Jason Sheeler, Peoplemag, 3 May 2024 Broadly speaking, a total solar eclipse is a function of a bit of cosmic serendipity: the sun is roughly 400 times bigger than the moon, but also 400 times further away, which means that the two disks appear to be about the same size in the sky. TIME, 28 Mar. 2024 See all Example Sentences for serendipity 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'serendipity.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


from its possession by the heroes of the Persian fairy tale The Three Princes of Serendip

First Known Use

1754, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of serendipity was in 1754


Dictionary Entries Near serendipity

Cite this Entry

“Serendipity.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition


ser·​en·​dip·​i·​ty ˌser-ən-ˈdip-ət-ē How to pronounce serendipity (audio)
: the gift of finding valuable or agreeable things not looked for

More from Merriam-Webster on serendipity

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!