verb (used without object)

  1. to take place; come to pass; occur: Something interesting is always happening in New York.
  2. 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.
  3. to have the fortune or lot (to do or be as specified); chance: I happened to see him on the street.
  4. to befall, as to a person or thing: Something dreadful has happened to me.
  5. to meet or discover by chance (usually followed by on or upon): to happen on a clue to a mystery.
  6. to be, come, go, etc., casually or by chance: My friend happened along.
  7. Slang. to be very exciting or interesting: That party was happening!


  1. (intr) (of an event in time) to come about or take place; occur
  2. (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
  3. (tr) to chance (to be or do something)I happen to know him
  4. (tr; takes a clause as object) to be the case, esp if by chance, thatit happens that I know him

adverb, sentence substitute

  1. Northern English dialect
    1. another word for perhaps
    2. (as sentence modifier)happen I’ll see thee tomorrow

c.1300, “to come to pass, occur,” originally “occur by hap, to have the (good or bad) fortune (to do, be, etc.);” see hap (n.). Replaced Old English gelimpan, gesceon, and Middle English befall. In Middle English fel it hap meant “it happened.” Related: Happened; happening.

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