Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Accident and Incident

Accident vs Incident: Don’t Mistake One for the Other

When one watches the news on television, or reads the newspapers, one would usually come across the words accident and incident. Accident and incident are two words which are easily interchanged by some people because they sound alike. Both words end with a ‘-dent’ sound. Furthermore, accident and incident are both used to describe a past, present, or future event. However, they cannot be used interchangeably, because they should be used with certain conditions.

One should understand that incident could pertain to any event, whether positive or negative. A funeral, wedding, forest fire, and classroom session could all be termed as incidents. Regardless of circumstance, an event can always be termed as an incident. People usually attach adjectives before the word incident. It’s common to hear phrases such as ‘what an unfortunate incident’ or ‘it was a good incident’ when people describe events.

On the other hand, the term accident cannot be used when describing events in general. Accident has a negative implication, and points to an unintended or chance event. Accident can also pertain to events which involve injury, misfortune, and in some cases, even death. To say that a person accidentally dropped a pen, for example, means that the person unintentionally dropped the pen. The person may have dropped it because his fingers were sweaty, or because he fell asleep, or because the pen was too slippery. In any case, the dropping of the pen was not an intended event, therefore it can be termed as an accident.

Events wherein a train slipped off the rails or an airplane crash-dove into the sea can all be termed as accidents. In this case, however, the implication of accident is heavy, because it might involve injury or death. Whether the cause of the event was human error or faulty wiring weather, the event can generally be termed as an accident.

In the media, any sensational event is automatically termed as an incident. Any newsworthy story can be tagged with the term. For example, a hostage-taking scenario which occurred in the Philippines can be called as the Philippine incident. In the same manner, the awarding ceremonies of an actors’ guild can be simply termed as the actors’ guild incident. One can observe that the use of incident is very general, and can be used in conjunction with any significant event.

The trick to differentiating effectively between accident and incident is by determining the nature of the event. All accidents can alternately called as incidents, but not all incidents are accidents. Events which have negative repercussions, and involve any chance electrical failure or human error, should be termed as accidents. However, events which are positive in nature should be called as in incidents.

People should know when to use the terms accident and incident in order to avoid misinformation. For example, using the term accident to describe a positive event could cause undue worry and stress to listeners. In the same way, using the term incident to describe a tragedy could make listeners ignore the negative implications of an event.

Summary:

1. The terms accident and incident are terms which are used often by the media.

2. Accident and incident are two words which are easily interchanged by some people because they sound alike. Both words end with a ‘-dent’ sound.

3. Accident and incident are both used to describe a past, present, or future event.

4. Regardless of circumstance, an event can always be termed as an incident.

5. On the other hand, the term accident cannot be used when describing events in general. Accident has a negative implication, and points to an unintended or chance event.

6. All accidents can alternately called as incidents, but not all incidents are accidents.


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