Ok here is the scenario

You are getting dressed in the morning, you cant find your wallet so you take a couple minutes to find it sitting on the dresser. You pick it up put it in your pocket and on your way to the stairs you get stuck behind a little boy taking his time, the little boy dropped his toy car on the stairs which neither of you notice.

You slip on the little boys car and fall

You cant help but think to yourself if I had found my wallet and was a couple minutes before the kids this would not have happened

What is a word or phrase that describes that?

  • unforeseen circumstances; unexpected circumstances Commented Dec 22, 2016 at 21:07
  • You'd be crying over spilled milk, which as everyone will tell you is no use. Commented Dec 22, 2016 at 22:33
  • 1
    Relevant: english.stackexchange.com/questions/223243/…
    – Andrew
    Commented Dec 22, 2016 at 22:39
  • I feel like there's a perfect word for this on the tip of my tongue, but all my resources yield nothing. The positive equivalent is "serendipitous" but the negative equivalent eludes me.
    – Andrew
    Commented Dec 22, 2016 at 23:34
  • A continuation of such misfortune might be a "comedy of errors". Originally a play by Shakespeare, it has come to mean a series of situational blunders which are humorous to an onlooker.
    – Kys
    Commented Dec 23, 2016 at 18:25

1 Answer 1


I believe you are suffering the dreaded Domino Effect (also known as a Chain Reaction), which is a phenomenon in which an initial event (your wallet being misplaced) caused a series of related events that, like dominoes falling one into the other, result in the effect you eventually reach (at the bottom of the stairway you fell on).

Our Dominoes:

  1. You spend longer looking for your wallet, thus... (first domino)
  2. ...you arrive late to the stairway... (thud)
  3. ...placing you behind the slow child... (thud)
  4. ...whose car drops onto the stair without either of you realizing... (thud)
  5. ...which you step on... (thud)
  6. ...causing you to slip... (THUD)
  7. ...and (likely taking the child with you) fall down the stairs. (CRASH)

Who knew a misplaced wallet would mean a pratfall down a stairwell?!?!

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