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See more synonyms for hapless on Thesaurus.com
  1. unlucky; luckless; unfortunate.
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Origin of hapless

First recorded in 1560–70; hap1 + -less
Related formshap·less·ly, adverbhap·less·ness, noun
Can be confusedhapless haply happily


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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

unlucky, woeful, cursed, ill-fated, loser, luckless, miserable, star-crossed, unhappy, untoward, wretched, infelicitous, hexed, ill-starred, jonah, snakebit

Examples from the Web for hapless

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • But Fortune had not yet exhausted her malice against the hapless Athenians.

  • Hapless as his condition was, he might still pray for mercy, and might possibly find it.


    James Anthony Froude

  • He sprang forward at once towards the hapless boy, dragging the coat with him.

    The Fiery Totem

    Argyll Saxby

  • Poor, hapless Bernardine could have cried aloud as she listened.

    Jolly Sally Pendleton

    Laura Jean Libbey

  • And could love do so little at its most unfortunate and hapless ending?

    Aunt Rachel

    David Christie Murray

British Dictionary definitions for hapless


  1. unfortunate; wretched
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Derived Formshaplessly, adverbhaplessness, noun
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 hapless


"unfortunate," c.1400, from hap (n.) in the sense "good luck" + -less. Related: Haplessly; haplessness.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper