Linguistic Corner: Serendipity

Miloš Matović 5 years ago Comment

Serendipity is frequently listed among the most beautiful English words, as well as among the ones most difficult to translate to other languages.

serendipity

Serendipity is frequently listed among the most beautiful words in the English language, as well as among the ones most difficult to translate.

It essentially means “a pleasant surprise” or “an accidental discovery”, something nice that we find without looking for it. Whether serendipity occurs by chance or by design of a higher intelligence depends on your beliefs, but it certainly does happen to all people once in a while.

Although it wasn’t frequently used until the 20th century, the term was coined by writer and politician Horace Walpole back in 1754, after the title of a Persian fairy tale The Three Princes of Serendip, with Serendip being an old English name for Sri Lanka. The word is derived from Persian Sarandib, which is ultimately derived from Sanskrit Sinhaladvipa, literally meaning “the land of lions”.

Of course, an encounter with lions is not very likely to be a serendipitous event, but words really walk in mysterious ways.

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