Horace Walpole (1717-1797) coined the word serendipity, which he used in a letter addressed to a friend dated January 28, 1754, and formed from the title of a Persian fairy story, The Three Princes of Serendip. This was a happy coinage, for in their travels the princes of Serendip repeatedly discovered, by chance, rewards they were not seeking. Walpole said it just a little differently. The princes "were always making discoveries, by accident and sagacity, of things they were not in quest of." Serendipitous describe something obtained or characterized by lucky and unexpected "finds." The classic example, from the Bible, is the story of Saul, "who set out to find his father's asses but instead found a kingdom." A person who goes to Sri Lanka in search of serendipity goes to the right place. Sri Lanka was formerly called Ceylon, and before that—long before that—Serendip.

Dictionary of eponyms. . 2013.

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