- to take place; come to pass; occur: Something interesting is always happening in New York.
- to come to pass by chance; occur without apparent reason or design: Don't ask me what caused it—it just happened, that's all.
- to have the fortune or lot (to do or be as specified); chance: I happened to see him on the street.
- to befall, as to a person or thing: Something dreadful has happened to me.
- to meet or discover by chance (usually followed by on or upon): to happen on a clue to a mystery.
- to be, come, go, etc., casually or by chance: My friend happened along.
- Slang. to be very exciting or interesting: That party was happening!
Origin of happen
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
1. betide. Happen, chance, occur refer to the taking place of an event. Happen, which originally denoted the taking place by hap or chance, is now the most general word for coming to pass: Something has happened. Chance suggests the accidental nature of an event: It chanced to rain that day. Occur is often interchangeable with happen, but is more formal, and is usually more specific as to time and event: His death occurred the following year.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Examples from the Web for happen
“Please, please do not permit this to happen here in Florida,” wrote Cris K. Smith of East Polk County.Jeb Bush’s Unseen Anti-Gay Marriage Emails
January 9, 2015
They now know that bad things can, and do, happen to those they love.What Downton’s Fashion Really Means
January 2, 2015
The possibility that the same outcome could happen another way -- namely a guy asks me out -- keeps me from taking action.Random Hook-Ups or Dry Spells: Why Millennials Flunk College Dating
January 1, 2015
How does it happen that citizens of modest means suffer as public sector unions gain?How Public Sector Unions Divide the Democrats
December 29, 2014
The unspoken question from his son and the thousands of other kids was, “Could it happen to you?”Choking Back Tears, Thousands of Cops Honor Fallen Officer Ramos
December 28, 2014
Some horrible accident might happen to delay us here thirty minutes.The Spenders
Harry Leon Wilson
But where the material and the moral exist together, what is to happen then?The Hall of Fantasy (From "Mosses From An Old Manse")
If you happen to know several, now is the time to tell them.Grace Harlowe's Return to Overton Campus
Jessie Graham Flower
If you happen to be unacquainted with its authentic history, so much the better.Other Tales and Sketches
But of this we may be sure, that it will not happen again very often.The Conquest of Fear
- (intr) (of an event in time) to come about or take place; occur
- (intr foll by to) (of some unforeseen circumstance or event, esp death), to fall to the lot (of); be a source of good or bad fortune (to)if anything happens to me, it'll be your fault
- (tr) to chance (to be or do something)I happen to know him
- (tr; takes a clause as object) to be the case, esp if by chance, thatit happens that I know him
- Northern English dialect
- another word for perhaps
- (as sentence modifier)happen I'll see thee tomorrow
C14: see hap 1, -en 1
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Word Origin and History for happen
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper