- 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 for happen 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 happens
So, what happens if nothing in his training has replicated such a dire condition?Flight 8501 Poses Question: Are Modern Jets Too Automated to Fly?
January 4, 2015
But this is also what happens sometimes to actresses (and journalists) when someone hits it big.Brie Larson’s Hollywood Transformation
December 29, 2014
“It happens very often that the form smothers the content,” he says.Christoph Waltz on Bond, Burton, and Channeling His Inner Darkness
December 25, 2014
Just ask Darren Sharper what happens if your sporting career suddenly falters.Jameis Winston Cleared of Rape Like Every Other College Sports Star
December 22, 2014
It happens, of course, but the less time a person is sick, the better their chances of recovery.You’re Never ‘Cured’ of an Eating Disorder
December 20, 2014
But did you ever stop to think what happens when you write a letter?Ancient Man
Hendrik Willem van Loon
They were smuggled, mind you, and no matter what happens, he can't squeal.Within the Law
Lucky the cayuse who happens to be the right size for his harness.A Woman Tenderfoot
Grace Gallatin Seton-Thompson
If he happens to appear in the office, I have to associate with him; but, thank Heaven!American Notes
I am with him because it happens from particular circumstances to suit my convenience.Life And Adventures Of Martin Chuzzlewit
- (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
Word Origin and History for happens
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper