• adventitious •
Pronunciation: æd-ven-ti-shês • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Adjective
Meaning: 1. Coming from outside and not a natural or inherent (staminal) part of, alien. 2. Accidental rather than a result of intention or planning.
Notes: The adverb is adventitiously and the noun, adventitiousness. This word is not to be confused with adventure, even though they share the same origin. It also shares some genes with adventive "from without, alien, adventitious."
In Play: Anything that is not natural but accidental or imposed by outside circumstance qualifies for this Good Word: "Don't be misled by that adventitious laughter during the interview; he isn't at all fun to work with." When things out of the ordinary occur, watch out for an opportunity for this adjective: "Lucy Furr seems to be in an adventitiously good mood this morning." Accidents, too, can call out the best in this word: "Mortimer's success on this deal was purely adventitious and isn't likely to happen again."
Word History: This Good Word comes from Latin adventicius "foreign", from adventus "arrival", the past participle of advenire "to come to". This verb is made up of ad- "(up) to" + venire "to come", which gave us another Good Word, advent. Venire, I said there, reflects a time when Proto-Indo-Europeans didn't seem to know whether they were coming or going, for the root that gave us venire, PIE gwe(-m)-, became both come and go in English. Click 'advent" above and read the history of this root there.