without prep, adv, conj

[. . .]

C As prep.

Used with conditional force in a positive context in adv phrr without an accident, rarely ~ a chance: If nothing unexpected happens, barring an accident; probably, very likely. Note: The use of without to express a condition is std in negative contexts; cf OED2 without adv., prep., conj. B.13 a1300→. chiefly Sth, S Midl ?obs

1793 DE Gaz. (Wilmington) 6 April 1/3, [Advt:] The public may rely on the advantages from preferring him [=a stallion standing at stud]; as without an accident, they will be sure of a horse fit for every purpose. 1795 in 1899 Monroe Writings 2.189 ceVA, But it was known by the Committee that without an accident as much might be gained and perhaps more by conquest. 1829 in 2007 Jackson Papers 7.215 eVA, An office at this time will open a way by wch. I shall be enabled to impart the little means I have in another quarter, and without an accident, will I trust remunerate me for the many losses I have sustained. 1857 Daily Natl. Intelligencer (DC) 12 Jan [2]/3, Without an accident I expect the culvert will be finished by the middle of November. 1867 New Orleans Tribune (LA) 24 July [4]/3, The plant [=cotton], however, looks well where it has been freed from the grass and weeds, and will without an accident, yield more than usual. 1880 Macon Telegraph & Messenger (GA) 8 May [2]/4, The wheat crop from Dalton to Louden, Tenn., never looked more promising than at present. The yield, without an accident, will be greater than for many years previous. 1903 DN 2.337 seMO, Without an accident. . . If nothing happens. ‘I will be back to-morrow without an accident.’ 1911 Cleburne Morning Rev. (Cleburne TX) 6 Aug 2/1, Without an accident Texas will raise nearly half as much cotton in 1911-12, as the South. 1917 Murdoch Almetta 184 eKY, Why, I never paid no strict ’tention to what he wuz sayin’. I knowed without an accident he wuz lyin’. 1923 DN 5.199 swMO, Accident. . . Doubt. “’Ithout a accident hit’ll rain ag’in mornin’.” Ibid 203 swMO, Chance. . . Doubt. “’Ithout a chance hit’ll be a-rainin’ ag’in mornin’.” 1925 Kroll Compar. Study S. Folk Speech swAL, csKY, “Without an accident it will rain tonight.” “If you go down to the log camps without an accident you will see him.” The expression has been noted in Washington County[,] Alabama, and Warren County, Kentucky. Though confined to people with only practical learning, it cannot be classed as an illiterate form.