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See more synonyms for happening on Thesaurus.com
  1. something that happens; occurrence; event.
  2. an unconventional dramatic or artistically orchestrated performance, often a series of discontinuous events involving audience participation.
  3. any event considered worthwhile, unusual, or interesting.
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Origin of happening

1545–55; 1965–70 for def 2; happen + -ing1


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

Related Words


Examples from the Web for happenings

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • He sees the happenings in the household, but sees them in a light of his own.

  • Certainly, some happenings in this world of ours did not seem quite fair.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

  • The happenings of the next few minutes were noisy and profane.

    Thankful's Inheritance

    Joseph C. Lincoln

  • He seemed to be in a sort of waking dream and only dimly conscious of happenings about him.

    The Woman-Haters

    Joseph C. Lincoln

  • "There is undoubtedly some connection between the two happenings," said Jeter.

British Dictionary definitions for happenings


  1. an occurrence; event
  2. an improvised or spontaneous display or performance consisting of bizarre and haphazard events
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  1. informal fashionable and up-to-the-minute
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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 happenings



mid-15c., "chance, luck," from present participle of happen; meaning "occurrence" is 1550s. Sense of "spontaneous event or display" is from 1959 in the argot of artists. Happenings "events" was noted by Fowler as a vogue word from c.1905.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper