is finding something unexpected and useful while searching for something else entirely. For instance, the discovery of the antibacterial properties of penicillin
by Alexander Fleming
is said to have been a serendipitious discovery.
The word was coined by Horace Walpole in the 18th century, from the Persian fairy tale The Three Princes of Serendip (Serendip is an old name for the island now known as Sri Lanka)
It is used as a sociological method in Anselm L. Strauss' and Barney G. Glaserss Grounded Theory, building on ideas by sociologist Robert K. Merton, who in Social Theory and Social Structure (1949) claimed that serendipity was an Indian concept.
is also the name of a club in New York City
where Andy Warhol
used to frequent.
Serendipity is the name of a romantic movie starring Kate Beckinsale and John Cusack.