Share this entry


Synonyms of happen in English:


  • 1 remember what happened last time he was here
  • 2 I wonder what happened to Joe?
    literary befall, betide
  • 3 they happened to be in
    chance, have the good/bad luck
  • 4 she happened on a blue jay's nest
    discover, find, find by chance, come across, chance on, stumble on, hit on
  • Choose the right word

    happen, befall, occur, transpire
    When things happen, they come to pass either for a reason or by chance ( it happened the day after school started; she happened upon the scene of the accident), but the verb is more frequently associated with chance ( it happened to be raining when we got there). Occur can also refer either to something that comes to pass either accidentally or as planned, but it should only be used interchangeably with happen when the subject is a definite or actual event ( the tragedy occurred last winter). Unlike happen, occur also carries the implication of something that presents itself to sight or mind ( it never occurred to me that he was lying). Transpire is a more formal (and some would say undesirable) word meaning to happen or occur, and it conveys the sense that something has leaked out or become known ( he told her exactly what had transpired while she was away). While things that happen, occur, or transpire can be either positive or negative, when something befalls it is usually unpleasant ( he had no inkling of the disaster that would befall him when he got home).
    Share this entry

    What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

    Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.