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happen Syllabification: hap·pen
Pronunciation: /ˈhapən/

Definition of happen in English:


[no object]
1Take place; occur: the afternoon when the disturbance happened
More example sentences
  • The accident happened at the Namuang falls on the island of Koh Samui.
  • Nobody wants an accident to happen but if the present chaos continues it is inevitable.
  • Rather in keeping with the tenor of the match, one of the most significant developments happened by accident.
1.1Ensue as an effect or result of an action or event: this is what happens when the mechanism goes wrong
More example sentences
  • This conversation mostly focused around what happens in the event of a verdict.
  • There is a whole sequence of events that happens when those pilots take that landing gear handle and retract the landing gear.
  • He said neither of the stars wished to be seen by their public behaving in an unrestrained manner, which is what happens at events such as weddings.
1.2 [with infinitive] Chance to do something or come about: we just happened to meet Paul there happens to be a clash of personalities
More example sentences
  • I happen to be a swede myself!!
  • Five accomplished Hispanic nurses who just happen to be guys talk about the special challenges they face and the unique strengths they bring to the table.
  • I happen to be very good at what I do and I do work unpaid overtime or weekends, both when it's needed or when I just need to pretend that I'm a hard worker.
discover, find, find by chance, come across, chance on, stumble on, hit on
1.3 [with clause] Come about by chance: it just so happened that she turned up that afternoon
More example sentences
  • It just so happened that two weeks ago I was in the Matamata New World.
  • It just so happened that elocution lessons were scheduled for the two older girls for an hour that day.
  • It happened that it was the first convent in Tubbercurry long before the Marist Convent was put into operation.
chance, have the good/bad luck
1.4 (happen on) Find or come across by chance: Mike played football as a boy and happened on cycling by accident
More example sentences
  • If he goes to sleep often enough in his hotel room, there is less chance of it happening on the pitch.
  • And the chances of that happening on the Down Under tour have narrowed due to England's injury crisis.
  • A van and four cars were involved in the smash which happened on the London-bound track at Boreham.
1.5 [with infinitive] Used as a polite formula in questions: do you happen to know who her doctor is?
More example sentences
  • Did anyone happen to see the alternate ending that is floating around the internet?
  • Did anyone happen to see David Letterman the other night when he was playing "Psychic Salad"?
  • By the way, did you happen to ask the Canadians what they thought of their country's health care system?
2 (happen to) Be experienced by (someone); befall: the same thing happened to me
More example sentences
  • Has anyone else had anything like any of these experiences happen to them before?
  • Courts and academics brush over what actually happens to such videos once they leave the sex shop.
  • The most difficult decision facing the school must be over what happens to Anne Williams.
2.1Become of: I don’t care what happens to the money
literary befall, betide


Late Middle English (superseding the verb hap): from the noun hap + -en1.


as it happens

Actually; as a matter of fact: we’ve got a room vacant, as it happens
More example sentences
  • The Potter books actually work for me better as films, as it happens.
  • So this theory of who is the bad wolf was actually brought up on the other thread as it happens.
  • I was, as it happens, offered herbal tea but no one lectured me when I plumped for the caffeine-loaded coffee option.

Words that rhyme with happen


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Pronunciation: ˈdo͞ofəs
a stupid person