FORTUITOUS: “happening by accident or chance rather than by design” — New Oxford American Dictionary

How fortuitous for the network that Michael Jackson’s death gave them an excuse to replay a two-hour episode from this season! (And by “fortuitous,” I mean “tacky.”) (DWTS’ Meets ‘Biggest Loser’, The Wrap, June 30, 2009)

That might have been fortuitous, in a reverse-fortuitous way, because Coppola already had a rep for blowing his budgets… (Disneyland Urged to Bring Back Michael Jackson’s Captain EO,, June 26, 2009)

Fortuitous does not mean, nor has it ever meant, “fortunate.” If you mean “fortunate,” the word you want is fortunate. That’s getting to be a mantra here.

And look, please don’t argue that yes, something is fortuitous because it is both fortunate and a product of chance. Fine, fine, if that is the case, fortuitous works, even if you don’t know what you’re talking about. You’re saved by a fortuitous coincidence of ignorance and correctness. But a rise in stock prices is not fortuitous. Better-than-expected earnings are not fortuitous. Even a straight flush in Vegas is not fortuitous. All of these things, one could argue, feature an element of chance. But fortuitous carries with it the connotation of surprise, of something not anticipated or even hoped for. And it can be for good or ill, as in the fortuitous confluence of the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl.

We at Lexicide had categorized this word as near-extinct, but after reading the entires above, we may have to just give in and order the flowers. “Reverse-fortuitous way?” I knew the death of Jacko would bring out only the lowest and tackiest (and by “tackiest,” I mean “most fortuitous“) writing efforts. But this? Oh, the humanity!

Otto E. Mezzo

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