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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." Hap, in turn, comes from the Old Norse word happ, meaning "good luck." Perhaps it's no accident that hazard also has its own connotations of chance and 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 comes from the Arabic word al-zahr, meaning "the die.") Haphazard first entered English as a noun 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
Built out in haphazard fashion, the house seems both neglected and fussed over, and as a result slightly mad. Nicholas Dames, The Atlantic, 14 June 2024 This flashy, somewhat haphazard quality feels like the work of a director opting for big, fun choices in order to obscure a muddle. Sara Holdren, Vulture, 13 Feb. 2024 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, 1 Feb. 2024 Viewed individually, these efforts look haphazard and reactive. Michael Beckley, Foreign Affairs, 14 Feb. 2022 See all Example Sentences for haphazard 

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 25 Jun. 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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