Submitted by bill on January 15, 2006

Perfect Storm

Does a phrase exist (english or other) that describes a situation in which something that normally would not occur takes place, solely because the circumstances surrounding it (themselves possible anomolies) make it possible.

Example: A “perfect storm” can take place because wind speeds reach the correct speed at the correct moment, water temperatures are at the right temperature at the correct time, etc., etc.

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What I thought of myself when I read this post was the expression, "self-fulfilling prophecy," a figure of speech meaning that a forecasted event occurs even despite when (and more specifically, because) people take action to try to avoid it.

This comes from the term "self-fulfillment," the concept that the revelation of a prediction about an event itself causes the said event to occur exactly as predicted. I sense that I may have skewed from your idea, though.

For your exact idea, "perfect storm" is a perfect expression. It also may be called a "butterfly effect" and is related to the philosophies called consequentialism and teleology.

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I've often heard the term "perfect storm" used in this sense (methaphorically, that is, not only to refer to meteorological conditions).

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Perhaps SNAFU would be appropriate for this too. Although it is an acronym for Situation Normal All Fowled (explitive removed) Up, SNAFU is often used to describe a situation in which the convergeance of usually normal things have forced an unintended or unexpected consequence.

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Stellar alignment, convergence and synergy come to mind.

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The word "synchronicity" implies a meaningful coincidence.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synchronicity

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A conspiracy of events?

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I think "synchronicity" implies something *too* meaningful, no? The original (to my mind wildly unscientific, but I'm sure I'd get arguments about this) meaning of the term referred to events that, while not *causally* linked, had some other, causal-*like* connection ("mystical connection" is the best I can come up with, but again this is from someone who's no fan of Jungian psychology; I'm sure there are those who would say that's a bad reading).

I don't think the term "perfect storm", "convergence" or "synergy" (or even "stellar alignment," as long as it's used with tongue in cheek) imply anything more than a genuine random coincidence of events that have an effect *as if* they'd been planned.

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Perhaps too romanticized a word, but serendipity comes to mind as well, though I suppose there's an implication of fate or a "higher power" at work.

Perfect storm seems to fit the bill best.

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