‘Accidently’ vs ‘Accidentally’: What’s the Difference?

By Shanea Patterson, updated on January 18, 2023

Should you write it ‘accidently’ or ‘accidentally’? And what’s the difference between the two words? We’ll cover that in this article, plus teach you how to use the correct version in a sentence.

In short, the answer is that both spellings are acceptable. However, ‘accidentally’ is the best choice. They both mean the same thing – by accident or in an accidental or unintended way.

How to Spell ‘Accidentally’ or Is It ‘Accidently’?

According to several sources, both spellings of the word are correct and okay to use in your everyday writing.

These words can also be used interchangeably since they mean the exact same thing. They’re not really considered homophones because homophones sound the same but have different meanings.

‘Accidently’ or ‘Accidentally’ – Which is Correct?

So, you just learned that both spellings of this word are correct. Typically, you might see this with American English versions and British English spellings, but that’s not the case here. Both words are considered American English. The word is spelled the same in British English.

Therefore, you should feel comfortable using either word, no matter who your audience is.

Definition and Meaning of ‘Accidently’ and ‘Accidentally’

According to Merriam-Webster, the words mean by accident or in an accidental or unintended way.

So, if you do something ‘accidentally’ or ‘accidently,’ it usually means you didn’t mean to do it. You’ll usually be forgiven for something if it is just an accident.

A Brief History

The first known use of the word ‘accidentally’ was in the 14th century, and it meant the same thing it means today.

Pronunciation: How to Pronounce ‘Accidentally’ and ‘Accidently’

Unsure of how to pronounce these words? Here’s a short guide.

  • To pronounce ‘accidentally’ correctly, use the phonetic spelling: AK-SUH-DEN-TUH-LEE
  • To pronounce ‘accidently’ correctly, use the phonetic spelling: AK-SUH-DENT-LEE

How to Use ‘Accidently’ and ‘Accidentally’ in a Sentence

Now that you know what the words mean and how to pronounce them, let’s take a look at how to use them in a sentence correctly.

  • I accidentally sent a text I never meant to send. I just wanted to get my anger out!
  • I accidentally gave my patients too much medicine. I must be out of it today.
  • She accidentally deleted an important file on her computer, but luckily it’s still in the Trash folder.
  • I accidentally got off on the fourth floor instead of the fifth.
  • I accidentally broke my mother’s necklace this morning. She’s going to be so mad at me.
  • I accidentally got silver instead of gray. Will it really make that much of a difference?

Final Thoughts on ‘Accidently’ and ‘Accidentally’

To recap, we learned that both spellings of the word are correct and okay to use. And they also mean the same thing, so you can use them interchangeably.

If you ever get stuck on this or another word, you can always come back here and refresh your memory. We’ve also got a ton of other content on confusing words and phrases you might come across while learning the English language.

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Written By:
Shanea Patterson
Shanea Patterson is a writer based in New York and loves writing for brands big and small. She has a master's degree in professional writing from New York University and a bachelor's degree in English from Mercy College.

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