[hap-uh n-stans]


a chance happening or event.

Origin of happenstance

First recorded in 1895–1900; happen + (circum)stance
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for happenstance

coincidence, incident, fate, luck

Examples from the Web for happenstance

Contemporary Examples of happenstance

  • All of these differences add up to make each planet unique, a product of happenstance and history.

    The Daily Beast logo
    The Best Map of Mars Yet

    Matthew R. Francis

    July 20, 2014

  • The success that followed 16 years later was a matter of happenstance, not of strategy.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Fool's Gold

    David Frum

    February 13, 2013

Historical Examples of happenstance

  • The German was just a happenstance, a castaway in the war for Arzachel.

  • But the happenstance habits of nature were steadily being integrated into the control program of man.

  • Out of the chaos of happenstance they were finding rules of order, certain formulas of behavior, equations of force.


    Clifford Donald Simak

  • This is contrasted to happenstance decision making based on impulsiveness and wishful thinking.

  • As for deceased, his ontimely evaporation that a-way is but the frootes of happenstance.

    Faro Nell and Her Friends

    Alfred Henry Lewis

British Dictionary definitions for happenstance



a chance occurrence
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 happenstance

1897, from happening + ending from circumstance.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper