• hapless
  • audio pronunciation
  • \HAP-lus\
  • DEFINITION

adjective

: having no luck : unfortunate
  • EXAMPLES

The hapless cashier could not seem to get anything to work correctly that day.

"Texas batted around in the ninth against Los Angeles' hapless bullpen—with help from two more stolen bases." — From an Associated Press article by Greg Beacham, August 7, 2013

  • DID YOU KNOW?

"Hapless" literally means what you'd expect it to mean: "without hap"—"hap" being another word for "fortune" or "luck." "Hap" derives from the Old Norse word for "good luck." ("Happen" and "happy" are also descendants of the same ancient root word.) English has several words to describe those lacking good fortune, including "ill-starred," "ill-fated," "unlucky," and "luckless," a word formed in parallel to "hapless" by adding the suffix "-less." "Ill-starred" suggests bringing calamity or the threat of a terrible fate ("the ill-starred year the Great Depression began"). "Ill-fated" refers only to being doomed ("the ill-fated voyage of the Titanic"). "Luckless" and "unlucky" usually apply to a person or thing notably or chronically unfortunate ("the luckless investor lost all her money" and "an unlucky man who failed at everything he tried").

Test Your Memory: What is the meaning of "nocuous," our Word of the Day from August 26? The answer is …

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