Inventing Serendipity

On this Leap Day, inspired by an image and post onThe Paris Review , I retell a tale of serendipity...

Horace Walpole coined the word serendipity in a letter to Horace Mann, dated January 28, 1754.

In the letter, he explained the etymology of his new word. 

"I once read a silly fairy tale, called “The Three Princes of Serendip”: as their Highnesses travelled, they were always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things which they were not in quest of: for instance, on the them discovered that a mule blinds of the right eye had travelled the same road lately, because the grass was eaten only on the left side, where it was worse than on the right—now do you understand Serendipity?"

It took nearly two centuries for the adjective form, serendipitous, to come on the scene. Its first recorded usage was in 1943.



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