Meaning of ACCIDENT in English


ac ‧ ci ‧ dent S2 W2 /ˈæksəd ə nt, ˈæksɪd ə nt/ BrE AmE noun

[ Word Family: noun : ↑ accident ; adverb : ↑ accidentally ; adjective : ↑ accidental ]

[ Date: 1300-1400 ; Language: French ; Origin: Latin accidens 'additional quality, chance' , from accidere 'to happen' , from ad- 'to' + cadere 'to fall' ]

1 . by accident in a way that is not planned or intended OPP on purpose , deliberately :

I met her quite by accident (=completely by accident) .

The discovery was made almost by accident.

The pilot, whether by accident or design (=whether it was planned or not planned) , made the plane do a sharp turn.

2 . [countable] an event in which a car, train, plane etc is damaged and often someone is hurt:

Over 70,000 people are seriously injured every year in road accidents.

The accident happened at the junction of Forest Road and Pine Walk.

a train accident

3 .

[countable] a situation in which someone is injured or something is damaged without anyone intending them to be:

Ken had an accident at work and had to go to hospital.

I’m sorry about breaking the vase – it was an accident (=I did not intend to do it) .

a climbing/skiing/hunting etc accident

He died in a climbing accident in the Himalayas.

She was injured in a freak accident (=an unusual accident) when a wall suddenly collapsed.

I had a slight accident with your coffee.

They lost their lives in a tragic accident.

4 . [uncountable and countable] something that happens without anyone planning or intending it:

My third baby was an accident.

It is no accident that men fill most of the top jobs in nursing, while women remain on the lower grades.

an accident of birth/geography/history etc (=an event or situation caused by chance)

5 . accidents (will) happen spoken used to tell someone who has broken something that they should not worry that it has happened

6 . an accident waiting to happen used about a situation in which an accident is likely to happen because no one is trying to prevent it:

The boats are being left to drift; it’s an accident waiting to happen.

• • •

COLLOCATIONS (for Meaning 2)

■ adjectives

▪ a bad/serious accident

There’s been a bad accident on the freeway.


The road is closed following a serious accident.

▪ a major accident

News is coming in of a major rail accident.

▪ a horrible/nasty/horrific accident

We narrowly avoided a nasty accident.


‘This was an absolutely horrific accident,’ said an ambulance spokesman.

▪ a fatal accident (=in which someone is killed)

a fatal accident involving a bus and a cyclist

▪ a minor accident (=one that is not serious)

The ice and poor visibility caused minor accidents all over the country.

▪ a road/traffic accident

The number of traffic accidents has gone down.


Portugal has one of Western Europe’s worst road accident rates.

▪ a car accident ( also an automobile accident American English formal )

He was badly injured in a car accident.

▪ a plane accident/an airplane accident ( also a flying accident )

Holly died in a plane accident.

▪ a rail accident/a train accident

It was the country's worst ever rail accident.

▪ a hit-and-run accident (=when someone is hit by a driver who does not stop)

A woman is fighting for her life after a hit-and-run accident.

■ verbs

▪ have an accident

I had an accident on my way to work.

▪ be involved in an accident formal

Your son has been involved in a car accident.

▪ prevent an accident

Steps have been taken to prevent a similar accident happening again.

▪ an accident happens ( also an accident occurs formal )

No one saw the accident happen.


Most road accidents occur in urban areas.

■ accident + NOUN

▪ an accident victim

One of the accident victims is still trapped in his vehicle.

▪ accident rates/statistics

There is a relation between accident rates and the numbers of drivers on the road.


a survey of the latest airline accident statistics

▪ an accident investigation/inquiry

The two deaths are the subject of an accident inquiry.


Accident investigations often take months.

▪ an accident investigator

Accident investigators have been there all morning.

■ phrases

▪ the scene of an accident (=the place where it happened)

Police were at the scene of the accident within minutes.


► Do not say ' a small accident '. Say a minor accident .

• • •


▪ accident an event in which a vehicle is damaged and often someone is hurt:

Her father died in a car accident.


Hugh had an accident on his way to work.

▪ crash a serious accident in which a vehicle hits something else:

Rees-Jones was the only person to survive the crash.


a car/plane/train crash


He was killed in a plane crash.

▪ collision an accident in which two or more cars, trains etc hit each other:

His car was involved in a collision with a train.

| a head-on collision (=between vehicles that are driving towards each other) :

The actor was killed in a head-on collision while driving his new sports car.

▪ disaster a serious accident involving a train, plane, or boat, in which a lot of people are killed or injured:

It was Britain’s worst air disaster.

▪ wreck American English an accident in which a car or train is badly damaged:

Ben nearly died in a car wreck.

▪ pile-up an accident that involves several cars or trucks:

The pile-up happened in thick fog.


There was a 12-car pile-up on the motorway.

▪ fender-bender American English informal , prang British English informal a car accident in which little damage is done:

Atkinson was involved in a fender-bender in the hotel parking lot.


At 15, he borrowed his parents’ car and had a prang.

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.