A coincidence is when two events strangely or remarkably happen at the same time, but without any apparent reason or causal connection. For example, if you and your friend ran into each other in a big city out of the blue, that would be called a coincidence. Related words are COINCIDENTAL and COINCIDENTALLY.
When someone notices something coincidental, it’s common for them to say WHAT A COINCIDENCE! This expression follows a common structure in English (WHAT A + noun), which emphasizes how great or impressive something is.
Other examples are WHAT A MESS (used when something is a disaster), WHAT A DEAL (used when something is sold for a cheap price), or WHAT A RELIEF (used with a feeling of reassurance and relaxation).
A: I could really go for some stir fry right now…
B: What a coincidence! That’s what my mom’s cooking tonight.
(Two friends run into each other at the mall)
A: Oh, what a coincidence! What are you doing here?
B: Buying gifts for Christmas. What about you?
If you’re looking for alternatives to this phrase, you could also say HOW COINCIDENTAL, THAT’S SUCH A COINCIDENCE, or something along those lines.
A: I had this dream last night about being trapped in a museum.
B: That is such a coincidence. I used to have a recurring dream about that.
A: I think I’m going to wear a red dress to the dance tonight.
B: How coincidental. Are you copying me?
Have you ever heard the term IRONY? English speakers are notorious for mixing this up with coincidence. While a coincidence is an unexplained pairing of two events, irony is something that seems deliberately to be the opposite of what is expected.
There are different definitions of irony, but this is what is most often confused with coincidence. What is considered to be true irony may depend on who you ask, but some good examples of irony are a policeman getting arrested, a lactose intolerant person who loves cheese, or a monk who fights as a soldier (monks are not supposed to harm any life).
Many people, however, might consider something like rain on a wedding day, a free ride when you’ve already paid, or good advice that you didn’t take to be ironic, when these things are really coincidences. In fact, these are all things listed in Alanis Morissette’s famous song “Ironic.” Isn’t that ironic?
More for you:
English Vocabulary Dictionary