Accident of birth


      • luck or misfortune based on circumstances of birth
        To describe someone's social status, privileges or disadvantages that are solely based on their family, nationality or place of birth.

      • circumstances beyond one's control
        To emphasize that something is not a result of one's own choices or actions, but rather a random or predetermined event that cannot be changed.

      • inherent traits or characteristics
        To refer to qualities or traits that are present in someone from birth, rather than acquired through experience or education.

    Examples of Accident of birth

    • Sarah comes from a wealthy family, but she doesn't let her privileged background define her.

      This is an example of the idiom "accident of birth," which refers to the circumstances of one's birth, such as their social class, ethnicity, or nationality. It implies that these factors are not necessarily a person's fault or choice, but rather something that happens to them by chance.

    • Despite his humble beginnings, John worked hard to rise above his accident of birth and become a successful businessman.

      This example shows how the idiom can be used to contrast a person's upbringing with their later achievements. It suggests that while one's background may provide some advantages or disadvantages, it is ultimately up to the individual to make something of themselves.

    • Some people believe that talent is an accident of birth, but in reality, it takes hard work and dedication to develop one's abilities.

      This example shows how the idiom can be used to challenge a common belief or assumption. It implies that while some people may seem naturally gifted, there is usually more to their success than meets the eye.

    • The president's family connections may have given him an accident of birth advantage in politics, but he still has to earn the respect and support of his constituents.

      This example shows how the idiom can be used to acknowledge the role of privilege or advantage, while also emphasizing the importance of merit and effort. It suggests that while some people may have a head start, they still have to work hard to maintain their position.

    • The author's accident of birth as a woman has given her a unique perspective on the world, but she refuses to let her gender define her writing.

      This example shows how the idiom can be used to explore the intersection of identity and circumstance. It implies that while some people may face additional challenges or opportunities due to their background, they still have the power to shape their own experiences and narratives.


    In summary, the idiom "accident of birth" can be used in various contexts to describe the impact of one's birth circumstances on their life. It can refer to social status, privileges, or disadvantages, emphasizing that these are based on factors beyond one's control. It can also highlight inherent traits or characteristics that are present from birth.

    Origin of "Accident of birth"

    The phrase "accident of birth" dates back to the 17th century and was originally used in legal contexts to refer to someone's inheritance or right to property based on their birth. However, over time, it evolved to encompass a wider range of meanings related to one's birth circumstances.

    The word "accident" in this idiom comes from the Latin word "accidens," which means "happening" or "occurrence." Therefore, the phrase can be interpreted to mean "happening of birth" or "occurrence at birth," highlighting the idea that one's birth is a random event that cannot be controlled.

    Overall, the origin of this idiom suggests that one's birth circumstances, whether they bring luck or misfortune, are simply a product of chance and not something that can be altered or controlled.