Incident – Concept meaning, uses and examples, accident

We explain what an incident is, the origin of the term, its uses and various examples. Also, differences between incident and accident.

An incident is an interruption to an event, such as a protest in the middle of a match.

What is an incident?

An incident it is something that occurs in the course of an event, a business or a matter with which it is related. We generally use it to refer to unpredictable and scandalous events, such as fights, fights, arguments or interruptions, whenever they interrupt or affect the normal development of an activity. What happens in this way is therefore considered incidental.

We have inherited this word from Latin incidens (“What happens in the course of a matter”), voice formed in turn by the prefix in- (“Inside”) and the verb cadere (“To fall”), as well as the suffix -nt (which expresses agency or quality). In other words, an incident is something that “falls” into an event, figuratively. In other words, something that happens within the framework of an event that was already taking place.

The term incident is commonly used in judicial, legal or journalistic language, often in confusion with “accident”, as we will see later.

Thus, one can speak of a “diplomatic incident” to refer to a very unfortunate meeting between representatives of two nations; a “domestic incident” is a fight between two partners that does not escalate and does not require the intervention of the police; and a “court incident” is a minor trial within the development of a larger and longer trial.

Even so, it is possible to find the term incident in very different contexts: it is known as “incidental music” which accompanies the projection of a film or the representation of a theatrical work, that is, background music or setting, since sounds over the course of the play.

Incident and accident

A very frequently made mistake is the confusion between the terms incident and accident. Yes OK both terms can refer to unpredictable, disastrous or violent actions, there are notable differences between each of their meanings.

For starters, incidents should always occur during the course of a major event or matter that is thus seen to be interrupted. Which means that an accident may well be an incident: imagine that during a parade of floats through the streets of a city, a motorist loses control of his vehicle and crashes into another. In this case we have a car accident and a parade float incident.

Nevertheless, not all incidents are accidental: A fist fight between two of the bridesmaids during a church marriage is certainly an incident that the bride and groom will remember for a lifetime, but it is not at all accidental, as the fight was not out of the control of the bridesmaids in any moment. They could have waited for the ceremony to finish and then settled their outstanding accounts without damage to third parties.

Examples of incidents

Anything that interrupts the normal course of an event can be classified as an incident. For instance:

  • A heated discussion between two ambassadors during an international summit to discuss common issues.
  • A naked fanatic he bursts onto a soccer field, interrupting the game momentarily.
  • The members of a classical ballet in full performance they get distracted and go on stage when it was not theirs.
  • During the trial of a group of juvenile delinquents, a group of protesters burst into the room shouting for the defendants to be released.