Word of the day

The word for today is…

serendipity (noun) – 1. The faculty of making fortunate discoveries by accident.
2. The fact or occurrence of such discoveries.
3. An instance of making such a discovery.

Source : The Free Dictionary

Etymology : Serendipity was the felicitous invention of the English man of letters Horace Walpole (1717-97), who wrote it in a letter dated 28 January 1754, explaining that his coinage came from The Three Princes of Serendip in an English translation of a French translation of an Italian translation of a Persian fairy tale based on the life of a Sassanid (Persian) king of the fourth century a.d. The three princely heroes of the story had the knack for making desirable discoveries by accident.

Walpole calls the story a “silly fairy tale,” but that silly fairy tale was picked up by the French philosophe and writer Voltaire (1698-1778) in his novel Zadig ou la Destinée (Zadig, Or the Book of Destiny, 1747), whose hero, Zadig, a philosopher in ancient Babylonia, engages in detective work in which he infers unseen, unknown causes from visible effects. It is at least possible that Zadig influenced Edgar Allan Poe (1809-49) in his “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” (1841). It is certain that Zadig influenced the English biologist, writer, and proponent of Darwinism Thomas Huxley (1825-95), whose article “On the Method of Zadig” (1880) praised Zadig’s methodology. The proper name Serendip (also Serendib) comes from Sarāndīb, the Arabic name for the island of Sri Lanka (Ceylon), from Persian Sarândîp, from Pali Sīhaḷadīpa, from Sanskrit Siṃhaladvīpa “island of the Sinhalese people” (dīpa means “island” in Pali and the Sinhalese language, both from Sanskrit dvīpa “island”).


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Peter is a fourth-generation New Zealander, with his mother’s and father’s folks having arrived in New Zealand in the 1870s. He lives in Lower Hutt with his wife, three cats and assorted computers.

His work history has been in the timber, banking and real estate industries, and he’s now enjoying retirement. He has been interested in computers for over thirty years and is a strong advocate for free open source software. He is chairman of the SeniorNet Hutt City committee.

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