) name for the island-nation we now know as Sri Lanka
. The name is a rough translation from the Persian Sarandip
, itself a slight shift off the Arabic Sarandib
It is noteworthy to us because the onetime name of this island provided English author Horace Walpole with the raw materials necessary to coin the term serendipity, whose first recorded use (in an almost grotesquely self-referential sense) is in a letter dated January 28, 1754 as follows:
"this discovery, indeed, is almost of that kind which I call Serendipity, a very expressive word."
On another occasion, he describes his hitting upon the root of this new word in a "silly fairy tale
, called The Three Princes of Serendip
; as their highnesses travelled, they were always making discoveries, by accident
s and sagacity, of things which they were not in quest of ... One of the most remarkable instances of this accidental sagacity (for you must observe that no discovery of a thing you are looking for comes under this description) was of my Lard Shaftsbury, who happening to dine at Lord Chancellor Claredon's, found out the marriage of the Duke of York and Mrs. Hyde, by the respect with which her mother treated her at table."
One other word ultimately derived from this root is the somewhat-obscure serendipitist, whose first (and almost-only) recorded use was in James Joyce's 1939 work Finnegans Wake within the following almost-but-not-quite comprehensible exclamation "You... semisemitic serendipitist, you (thanks, I think that describes you) Europasianised Afferyank!"