The Antonym Of Serendipity


I recently encountered this word I’d not seen or heard before, so I looked it up.

According to the folks at WorldWideWords:

“So what is the opposite of Serendip, a southern land of spice and warmth, lush greenery and hummingbirds, seawashed, sunbasted? Think of another world in the far north, barren, icebound, cold, a world of flint and stone. Call it Zembla. Ergo: zemblanity, the opposite of serendipity, the faculty of making unhappy, unlucky and expected discoveries by design. Serendipity and zemblanity: the twin poles of the axis around which we revolve…

Zemblanity hasn’t achieved mainstream status, though Mr Justice Michael Peart used it in a legal judgment in Ireland in 2012 and it has been borrowed as the title of a bit of madcap physical theatre, which was performed, for example, at the 2009 Edinburgh Festival Fringe.”

11 thoughts on “The Antonym Of Serendipity

  1. Fascinating! I have never heard Zemblanity before and find it quite intriguing. Have tried to make a few sentences where the word would fit.
    Amazed that Ireland would be known as having used it officially. Would rather have expected e.g. Iceland. 😊


    • Me, too, Miriam. I had never heard it before, either. Serendipity is a word I’ve used often but never considered an antonym. If you figure out a sentence to use it in, please let me know…I’m a bit stumped on that. Iceland? Yeah, I can see that. 🙂

  2. The things you learn. The other day I was researching for a dialogue line and the anatomically correct description of where the bottom cheek meets the thigh wasn’t working (obviously). I found “gibbles.” Yep. A word for the crease that I’m sure kids use everyday but I’d never heard. I’m sharing that in the spirit of words we might only use once, but there they are.

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