adjective, hap·pi·er, hap·pi·est.

  1. delighted, pleased, or glad, as over a particular thing: to be happy to see a person.
  2. characterized by or indicative of pleasure, contentment, or joy: a happy mood; a happy frame of mind.
  3. favored by fortune; fortunate or lucky: a happy, fruitful land.See Synonym Study at fortunate.
  4. apt or felicitous, as actions, utterances, or ideas.
  5. obsessed by or quick to use the item indicated (usually used in combination): a trigger-happy gangster. Everybody is gadget-happy these days.

adjective -pier or -piest

  1. feeling, showing, or expressing joy; pleased
  2. willingI’d be happy to show you around
  3. causing joy or gladness
  4. fortunate; luckythe happy position of not having to work
  5. aptly expressed; appropriatea happy turn of phrase
  6. (postpositive) informal slightly intoxicated


  1. (in combination)happy birthday; happy Christmas

late 14c., “lucky, favored by fortune, prosperous;” of events, “turning out well,” from hap (n.) “chance, fortune” + -y (2). Sense of “very glad” first recorded late 14c. Ousted Old English eadig (from ead “wealth, riches”) and gesælig, which has become silly. Meaning “greatly pleased and content” is from 1520s. Old English bliðe “happy” survives as blithe. From Greek to Irish, a great majority of the European words for “happy” at first meant “lucky.” An exception is Welsh, where the word used first meant “wise.”

Used in World War II and after as a suffix (e.g. bomb-happy, flak-happy) expressing “dazed or frazzled from stress.” Happy medium is from 1778. Happy ending in the literary sense recorded from 1756. Happy as a clam (1630s) was originally happy as a clam in the mud at high tide, when it can’t be dug up and eaten. Happy hunting ground, the reputed Indian paradise, is attested from 1840, American English. Related: Happier; happiest.

In addition to the idioms beginning with happy

  • happy as the day is long
  • happy camper
  • happy hour
  • happy hunting ground
  • happy medium

also see:

  • many happy returns
  • trigger happy
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