Word Confusion: Accidentally versus Accidently

Posted April 27, 2013 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Editing, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

This is one of my issues. I had thought for years that accidently was the proper term, and when I ran across an explanation for why publically simply didn’t work, I decided to investigate.

A good thing. I do hate to be wrong.

On the other hand, I do like to learn…*grin*… And I’m still not too wrong since accidently is an acceptable variant spelling.

Word Confusions…

…started as my way of dealing with a professional frustration with properly spelled words that were out of context in manuscripts I was editing as well as books I was reviewing. It evolved into a sharing of information with y’all. I’m hoping you’ll share with us words that have been a bête noir for you from either end.

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Accidentally Accidently
Credit to: Merriam-Webster
Part of Grammar:
Adverb, standard Adverb, non-variant
The preferred spelling

Making an adverb from an adjective allows the new word to indicate the extent of what has occurred.

Arising from extrinsic causes

Occurring unexpectedly or by chance

Happening without intent or through carelessness and often with unfortunate results

An accepted variation

She accidentally fell into the pothole.

As opposed to She fell into the pothole.

He fell off the train accidentally.

Well, if he had fallen off the train, our imaginations might go wild wondering if he was pushed, fell unconscious, jumped…who knows.

She accidentally fell into the pothole.

He fell off the train accidently.

Adjective: accidental (the root word)
History of the Word:
Late Middle English (in sense 2 of the adjective and sense 3 of the adjective): from the late Latin accidentalis, which is from the Latin accident- meaning happening.

C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves?

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