1. an individual occurrence or event.
  2. a distinct piece of action, or an episode, as in a story or play.
  3. something that occurs casually in connection with something else.
  4. something appertaining or attaching to something else.
  5. an occurrence of seemingly minor importance, especially involving nations or factions between which relations are strained and sensitive, that can lead to serious consequences, as an outbreak of hostilities or a war: border incident; international incident.
  6. an embarrassing occurrence, especially of a social nature.


  1. likely or apt to happen (usually followed by to).
  2. naturally appertaining: hardships incident to the life of an explorer.
  3. conjoined or attaching, especially as subordinate to a principal thing.
  4. falling or striking on something, as light rays.


  1. a distinct or definite occurrence; event
  2. a minor, subsidiary, or related event or action
  3. a relatively insignificant event that might have serious consequences, esp in international politics
  4. a public disturbancethe police had reports of an incident outside a pub
  5. the occurrence of something interesting or excitingthe trip was not without incident


  1. (postpositive foll by to) related (to) or dependent (on)
  2. (when postpositive, often foll by to) having a subsidiary or minor relationship (with)
  3. (esp of a beam of light or particles) arriving at or striking a surfaceincident electrons

early 15c., “something which occurs casually in connection with something else,” from Middle French incident and directly from Latin incidentem (nominative incidens), present participle of incidere “happen, befall,” from in- “on” + -cidere, comb. form of cadere “to fall” (see case (n.1)). Sense of “an occurrence viewed as a separate circumstance” is from mid-15c. Meaning “event that might trigger a crisis or political unrest” first attested 1913.


“conducive (to), contributing (to),” early 15c., from Middle French incident (adj.) or directly from Latin incidens, present participle of incidere (see incident (n.)).

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