accidentally vs. incidentally


I'd like to know if the words accidentally and incidentally are interchangeable. To be more accurate, I know that the word "incidentally" introduces a different topic: "incidentally, I won't go to the party". I'm not so sure about using the word accindetally instead of incidentally here. That having been said I would like to pose two different questions:
1) If accidentally derives from accident, from which word incidentally derives ?
2) Last but not least, are they both similar or they have quite different meanings?
Many thanks!
  • Lucidstorm

    Ok one question off. Still, they do sound to me like something happened by accident, I mean accidentally and incidentally! Maybe incidentally means "possibly"?


    Senior Member
    English – U.S.
    I don't know?? I just looked up incidentally in and the synonym is accidentally. Hmmm. I have no clue. I always thought incidentally meant "by the way" or "as an aside."


    Senior Member
    English UK
    Lucidstorm, could you give us a sentence or two in which you think "incidentally" could replace "accidentally" (or vice versa)?


    Senior Member
    English - US
    If you look it up in a dictionary, you will find that "incidentally" means "by the way" / "introducing a different topic" which is the way it is used in your example sentence. Nothing to do with accidents.


    Reganse, could you please show me two examples of phrases which means the same thing, using both "as an aside" an "incidentally"? The comparison to "as an aside" now drive me crazy! :rolleyes:
    About your request, I think incidental could mean casual. To me, casual sounds like something happened by accident. Hard to find a distinction between casually, accidentally and incidentally (sic!). Still, I am searching for examples but google keeps crashing:eek:


    Maybe this one fits better:
    Incidentally, his cell was stolen by a patient
    Accidentally, his cell was stolen by a patient
    I agree that incidentally means "by the way" and that it also introduces an extra peace of information, though in many dictionaries the synonim is also casually/accidentally.


    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I'm going to build an extension to my house.
    Anything that happens accidentally, was unplanned and unforeseen.
    The bricklayer fell off the scaffolding, broke his leg, and shattered the adjacent window.
    In an accidental manner; by accident, by chance, unintentionally, casually.

    Anything that happens incidentally, was foreseen, but is not directly contributing to my planned extension.
    Approval for the extension required the installation of a complete smoke alarm system throughout the house.
    In an incidental manner; as an incident, or a subordinate and casual circumstance.
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