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hap·​haz·​ard (ˌ)hap-ˈha-zərd How to pronounce haphazard (audio)
: marked by lack of plan, order, or direction
a haphazard assemblage of furniture
not … a collection of haphazard schemes, but rather the orderly component parts of a connected and logical wholeF. D. Roosevelt
haphazard adverb
haphazardly adverb
haphazardness noun
haphazardry noun


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: chance sense 1
this little remnant preserved by the haphazard of chanceEdith Hamilton
take our principles at haphazardJohn Locke

Did you know?

The hap in haphazard comes from an English word that means "happening," as well as "chance or fortune," and that derives from the Old Norse word happ, meaning "good luck." Perhaps it's no accident that hazard also has its own connotations of luck: while it now refers commonly to something that presents danger, at one time it referred to a dice game similar to craps. (The name ultimately derives from the Arabic al-zahr, meaning "the die.") Haphazard first entered English as a noun (again meaning "chance") in the 16th century, and soon afterward was being used as an adjective to describe things with no apparent logic or order.

Choose the Right Synonym for haphazard

random, haphazard, casual mean determined by accident rather than design.

random stresses lack of definite aim, fixed goal, or regular procedure.

a random selection of books

haphazard applies to what is done without regard for regularity or fitness or ultimate consequence.

a haphazard collection of rocks

casual suggests working or acting without deliberation, intention, or purpose.

a casual collector

Examples of haphazard in a Sentence

Adjective We were given a haphazard tour of the city. considering the haphazard way you measured the ingredients, it's a wonder the cookies came out this good
Recent Examples on the Web
Here is the elephant so far: Thirteen billion years ago, in a universe that was then less than a billion years old, the Milky Way was born as a shapeless cloud of gas and dust, forming metal-poor stars and rotating incoherently so that its stars' orbits were also haphazard. Ann Finkbeiner, Scientific American, 16 Jan. 2024 So long as these new and excessive levels of digital communication persist, more haphazard upheavals will inevitably follow. Cal Newport, The New Yorker, 27 Dec. 2023 Dee Dee Friedrich remembers how haphazard wildfire horse rescues used to be in Orange County before a team formed to cart animals to safety. Gabriel San Román, Los Angeles Times, 21 Dec. 2023 The blender of haphazard luxury moments is incredible fashion fodder. Liana Satenstein, Vogue, 21 Dec. 2023 Even then, haphazard approaches can breed mistrust and waste the chance to learn lessons on prevention. Anna Clark, ProPublica, 31 Oct. 2023 Creating a morning routine, whether it’s plainly structured like Hemmingway’s or a little more haphazard like Thompson’s, can act as a trigger for productivity and focus. Paul Fitzgerald, Rolling Stone, 7 Sep. 2023 Keeping a cut free from too much layering ensures a super thick bob with tons of style. 18 of 45 Barely-There Bangs Curls make wispy bangs even more perfectly haphazard, especially when paired with short layers. Kaitlyn Yarborough, Southern Living, 9 Jan. 2024 Many devs have been haphazard about implementing NFTs in their games, which have been subpar with ancient gameplay loops. Victoria Chynoweth, Forbes, 11 Dec. 2023
Formed on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2000, the Steep Canyon Rangers were, at least early on, just a ragtag bunch of haphazard musicians looking to jam out on old bluegrass standards, maybe even book a gig or two. Garret K. Woodward, Rolling Stone, 20 Feb. 2024 The rush to embrace AI has unquestionable merit, but the haphazard approaches being taken by most tech companies, as well as the mistakes being made, should provide ample reason for concern. Thomas Lah, Forbes, 14 Feb. 2024 TikTok already allows influencers to link products directly in their videos, but these haphazard additions are part of a new — and expanding — effort to get people to buy more stuff on the platform. Mia Sato, The Verge, 8 Feb. 2024 While the steadfast caribou plod along their migration route, the wolves walk a haphazard and circuitous path in search of prey. Gabe Allen, Discover Magazine, 12 Dec. 2023 In apathetic hands, NA cocktails tend to taste haphazard: a swirl of juices, some spiced syrup, maybe a squirt of soda. Bill Addison, Los Angeles Times, 13 Jan. 2024 Uvalde County District Attorney Christina Mitchell said earlier this week that her staff is still examining the halting and haphazard police response to the May 2022 shooting that left 19 students and two teachers dead. CBS News, 21 Dec. 2023 Where Sugimoto’s images are clear, large, refined, singular and precious, Moriyama’s are multiple, democratic, immersive, rapid and haphazard, and varied in size, material and presentation. Emily Labarge, New York Times, 21 Nov. 2023 The haphazard runway the ancient Romans rigged for the elephants to cross remains the best attempt so far. Gisela Salim-Peyer, The Atlantic, 11 Dec. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'haphazard.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Noun and Adjective

hap entry 1 + hazard

First Known Use


1576, in the meaning defined above


1569, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of haphazard was in 1569

Dictionary Entries Near haphazard

Cite this Entry

“Haphazard.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/haphazard. Accessed 5 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition


: marked by lack of plan, order, or direction
haphazard adverb
haphazardly adverb
haphazardness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on haphazard

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