Fate and destiny: two concepts that are closely related, but that differ subtly (at least, by the definitions listed above). I find the differences between them fascinating.
fate n. The supposed force, principle, or power that predetermines events; the inevitable events predestined by this force.
destiny n. The future destined for a person or thing.
Fate is an entity, an irresistible force, a vehicle. Fate is not luck. There is nothing random about fate. Fate simply is. "As well ask men what they think of stone," as Judge Holden said of war, in Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian. Fate is the conveyance that brings you to your destiny.
Destiny, on the other hand, is the state at which a person or thing must inevitably arrive. Destiny is akin to a destination. (Indeed, both words are derived from the Latin destinare, to determine.) Destiny is the ultimate condition that the laws of the Universe impose upon you.
Perhaps a few examples will help illustrate the distinction.
How about a happy example? Let's try this: my destiny is to accrue a massive fortune. My fate then, the vehicle by which I arrive at this destiny, might be to win the Megabucks Lottery for $200 million.
Or, go dark, if you prefer: my destiny is to die on the side of a rural highway. In that case, my fate might be to hit a patch of black ice while driving to Klamath Falls.
But the best example is probably the one that is true for each of us:
- My destiny is to be an infinitesimally small, but absolutely essential part of the greater consciousness of the Universal Mind.
- My fate is to experience life as a human being on the planet Earth.
(The Devil's Dictionary provides an alternate, amusing definition.
Destiny: A tyrant’s authority for crime and fool’s excuse for failure.What a nut, that Ambrose Bierce, eh?)