Serendipity is one of my favorite words. Not only is it euphonious but its meaning carries overtones and innuendos of precise yet ephemeral nature, as so many French words do, and so few do in our own language.
The word was invented by Horace Walpole; but, with its wide popularity, the original meaning has often been corrupted to signify everything from accidental discovery to serene stupidity. Walpole's letter to Horace Mann on the derivation of the word and its meaning makes delightful reading, and I shall quote some excerpts:
Serendipity, a very expressive word, which, as I have nothing better to tell you in this letter, I shall endeavor to explain to you; you will understand it better by the derivation than by the definition. I once read a silly fairy tale, called the Three Princes of Serendip: as their hignesses travelled, they were always making discoveries, by accidents and