Fortuitous vs. Fortunate

By Sharon - 1 minute read

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It’s easy to mix up fortuitous with fortunate. After all, they both have aspects of luck and chance in their meaning.

Fortunate means lucky, derived from the word fortune, which means luck, either good or bad. The Romans thought of fortune as a goddess who could be for you or against you.

Fortuitous, on the other hand, derives from the Latin ‘fortuitus’ meaning, by chance, accidental. So a fortuitous meeting is an accidental meeting, rather than a lucky one.

Of course, now the waters have been further muddied. That’s because the common usage of fortuitous implies both chance and luck – in other words, a fortuitous meeting might be one that was accidental, but which worked out well for those who met.

Here are some quotations to help you see the words in context:

Although the 8-1 ruling hardly surprised legal observers, state officials were scrambling to review it on Tuesday, the busy first day of the legislative session. Some observers said the timing of the ruling was fortuitous for lawmakers — were they not meeting in regular session, they may have had to convene yet another special session to address it. – USA Today

Although the 8-1 ruling hardly surprised legal observers, state officials were scrambling to review it on Tuesday, the busy first day of the legislative session. Some observers said the timing of the ruling was fortuitous for lawmakers — were they not meeting in regular session, they may have had to convene yet another special session to address it. – NY Times

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1 Response to “Fortuitous vs. Fortunate”

  • Simon Townley

    I stumbled across this by chance. Lucky I did.

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