I am a white only out of accidence. (self-made)

Since we use “out of necessity” to mean something necessarily happens, by the same token, can we equate “out of accidence” with “accidentally”? It seems we use “by accident” in place of “out of accidence”?

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    What did you discover on a Google search? Were there many hits for "out of accidence"? How many of the first 20 say of these c225 hits were obviously irrelevant? Did any of the users deem the construction so unusual as to need scare quotes? // do any dictionaries give a usage other than the linguistic one for 'accidence'? – Edwin Ashworth Dec 4 '13 at 8:49

One of the definitions for accidence given in the Oxford English Dictionary is ‘chance, unforeseen or unexpected eventuality’, and there is a citation as recent as 1997 in support of this meaning, but it is described as ‘rare’. In principle you could use it in your example, but, because of its rarity, most readers would think it was a mistake. What you need to say is ‘I am a white only by chance.’

  • Also I can say "per accidens"? – benlogos Dec 5 '13 at 0:29
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    You can say what you like. The important thing is what other people will make of it. If you want to speak and write in Latin rather than English, then you should learn it first. – Barrie England Dec 5 '13 at 7:30

I agree that you cannot use 'accidence'.

If you want to preserve that sound, 'happenstance' is stronger than coincidence, as it connotes a circumstance that is especially due to chance.

"I am (a?) white only by happenstance."


Definitely not. Accidence is not the noun corresponding to accident, (although coincidence does correspond to coincident); it would be helpful to check a dictionary before asking such a question.

There are other problems with your proposed sentence; "(self-made)" when referring to the colour of your skin makes you sound like a mad cosmetic surgeon, and whether human beings are coloured by accident or design, you are no different from the rest of us.

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    “(Self-made)” means that he came up with the example sentence himself, rather than quoting it from somewhere. It is quite common to see in questions. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Dec 4 '13 at 11:09
  • ...quite common to see in this newsgroup. I haven't seen it elsewhere. But readers here know what it means. – GEdgar Dec 4 '13 at 18:33

I think you might have at the back of your mind the idiomatic

I am white merely by accident of birth.

(where 'accident' has the meaning 'chance occurrence' rather than 'mishap')

  • Thank you, "by accident of birth" is new to me. I used to know only the usage of "by accident". Yes, you are right, I failed to do enough research before posting the question. What I had in mind is complicated, maybe the assumption that since "accident" cannot convey the meaning of "accidens" in "per accidens" fully, there must be a another abstract word to represent "accidens" as meaning "contingency", "chance". – benlogos Dec 5 '13 at 1:01

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