[Ads-l] on accident

David Barnhart dbarnhart at HIGHLANDS.COM
Fri Jun 17 23:36:09 UTC 2016

For what it's worth:

The Barnhart Dictionary Companion (Vol. 13.1):

accident, n. {U}  In the adverb phrase on accident.  done accidentally; by accident.  Standard (used especially in informal contexts dealing especially with communication; infrequent in print)

"A thousand points is difficult to do, to maintain that shooting percentage was difficult to do, and that doesn't happen on accident," Miller said. "That happens on putting the time in. All good players in everything have talent, but in order to do something with it, you have to spend the time, and that's what made the range and made the scoring ability he had come true." Zach Spicer, “Trimnell signs with IU East Red Wolves,” The Tribune [Seymour, Ind.] (Nexis), May 12, 2010, p not given

“I’m glad I have it; I just don’t use it,” he said. “As a matter of fact, I picked the wrong doctor to treat me.  I picked a pediatrician on accident.  I’ve been healthy my whole life—thank God—and I haven’t really needed all that.”  Charles Ornstein, “Bridging Benefit Gaps; Patchwork care makes health solution elusive,” The Dallas Morning News (Nexis), April 2, 2000, p 1H 

“We learned how to swing and how to hold the club,” Davis said.  “I worked on my backswing.  The first time I teed off I threw my club across the course.  . . .  on accident.”  Tammy Nunez, “Fantainebleau’s Davis Finds Links to Her Liking,” The Times-Picayune [New Orleans, La.] (Nexis), March 31, 2000, p D1

A store clerk working when Moya was killed said a man who had been in the store with Moya ran back inside after the shooting and yelled: “I just shot my friend on accident.”  Daniel J. Chacon, “Police Seek to Question Man,” The Santa Fe New Mexican (Nexis), Jan. 3, 2000, p A-1

GAFFNEY: Obviously, a lot of practice and training goes into using these weapons systems before they are used.  I think it’s highly unlikely that a switch was pushed on accident.  Again, without knowing the details, I would probably lean more towards that once the missile was launched it either tracked the wrong target, or, that it’s possible that the Turkish ship got between the Saratoga, which launched the missile, and the target that it was trying to track to.  Patrick Greenlaw, “Navy Commander Doubts Missile Was Launched Accidentally,” an interview with Lt. Cmdr. Jonathan Gaffney on CNN [Cable News Network] News (Nexis), Oct. 2, 1992 

The team traveled all over Southern California, playing against winter league teams and colleges such as Cal State Long Beach and Cal State Los Angeles.  [James] Ferguson allowed one hit in three innings against USC.  “Playing against those college guys gave me a lot more confidence,” he said.  “I felt that now, if there was any big situation or tough games, I would have the ability to go out there and win.  I knew I wasn’t just going out there, hoping for luck, and maybe win on accident.  And after that, it (this season) was pretty much a piece of cake.”  Barbie Ludovise, “A Loss Becomes A Lesson; Servite’s [a high school] Ferguson Wasn’t Stalled By Rocky Start,” Los Angeles Times (Nexis), May  4, 1987, Sports sect., p 13

A borg drone is created on accident and matures from baby to adult.  Seven begins instructing him to be an individual, however the Collective is alerted to his presence.  “Season Five of Star Trek Voyager,” www.geocities.com/ TelevisionCitys/7557/season five.html

1987 (but presumed to be earlier).  Perhaps patterned after on purpose (OED: 1590).  Compare by accident (OED: 1487).  [Vol. 13.1; Fall 2000]
  The earliest written evidence we have found thus far is 1987.  However, several members of the American Dialect Society’s listserv have reported on accident in the speech of their children of the 1970’s.  The relative lack of written evidence may be due to the vigilance of copyeditors.  One elementary school principal recently reported that “when we hear it we correct on accident to by accident.”  On accident may be a development in the last quarter of the 20th century that is a sign of generational speech differences.

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf Of Jonathan Lighter
Sent: Friday, June 17, 2016 6:25 PM
Subject: Re: on accident

---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
Poster:       Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM>
Subject:      Re: on accident

Some years ago I suggested that "My bad!" had  similar origin.

"Borrowing" in this case, however, may well include toddlers retaining the form throughout life.


On Fri, Jun 17, 2016 at 3:35 PM, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at yale.edu> wro=
> Basically, with some wiggle room for just how conscious the process 
> was o=
r is.   It would be useful to have some empirical support on who is likely =
to use the "on accident" form but as I say I 'm hoping to blame it on the k=
ids.   LH
> Sent from my iPhone
>> On Jun 17, 2016, at 3:09 PM, Gordon, Matthew J. 
>> <GordonMJ at MISSOURI.EDU> =
>> Could you clarify what you mean by =E2=80=9Cborrowing from 
>> children=E2=
=80=99s language=E2=80=9D? Are you suggesting a process of more or less con= scious imitation/repetition by adults of a form that was analogically creat= ed by L1 learners?
>> Matt Gordon
>> On 6/17/16, 12:10 PM, "American Dialect Society on behalf of Laurence 
>> Ho=
rn" <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU on behalf of laurence.horn at YALE.EDU> wrote:
>>>> On Jun 17, 2016, at 12:10 PM, Jonathan Lighter 
>>>> <wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM=
> wrote:
>>>> Typed sign under doorknob in doctor's office:
>>>> "Be careful of doorknob button. Please do not lock door on accident."
>>>> Clearly infl. by "on purpose."
>>>> JL
>>>> --
>>> I think we've had threads about "on accident" in the past.  It's 
>>> certai=
nly been around for decades and speculated (at least by me) to be a borrowi= ng from children's language.
>>> LH
>>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>>> The American Dialect Society - 
>>> https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url=
>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>> The American Dialect Society - 
>> https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?=
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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