The Palgrave Encyclopedia of the Possible

Living Edition
| Editors: Vlad Petre Glăveanu (Editor-in-Chief)


Living reference work entry


A coincidence is a remarkable coming together of two or more incidents without an obvious causal connection between them (Beitman 2021). The word coincidence attracts two kinds of adjectives. One group implies no cause. These include: coincidental, mere, only, pure, true, sheer, and just. The other group implies that there might be a cause: meaningful, remarkable, and amazing. Throughout human existence the mystery of coincidences with the possibility of discoverable causes has fueled human curiosity. Coincidences can offer clues to how reality works (Johansen and Osman 2015) because they are hints of explanations not yet considered.

The nineteenth-century philologist H.E. Shepherd traced the origins of the words coincide and coincidence. He suggests that they probably began in Medieval Latin and then passed into the vocabulary of scholarly English writers during the first half of the seventeenth century, before probably being taken up by mathematicians during the great...


Mind Object Meaningful coincidence Synchronicity Carl Jung Serendipity, Horace Walpole Simulpathity, probability, random, personal agency, God Complexity Chaos, quantum, fractals 
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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences, University of VirginiaCharlottesvilleUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Wendy Ross
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyKingston UniversityKingston upon ThamesUK