hap·​less | \ ˈha-pləs How to pronounce hapless (audio) \

Definition of hapless

: having no luck : unfortunate tale of a hapless sailor hapless beings caught in the grip of forces we can do little about— W. H. Whyte

Other Words from hapless

haplessly adverb
haplessness noun

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," a word that is also the source of our happen and happy. 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"). Unlucky and luckless usually apply to a person or thing notably or chronically unfortunate ("an unlucky slots player," "some luckless investors swindled in the deal").

Examples of hapless in a Sentence

She plays the hapless heroine who is unlucky in love. the hapless motorist had barely paid his bill and driven away from the body shop when a truck sideswiped his car
Recent Examples on the Web The network is keeping it light for the comedy series’ upcoming season, teasing a bunch of shenanigans for the eponymous mad scientist and his hapless grandson (both voiced by Justin Roiland). J. Kim Murphy, Variety, 27 July 2022 Teams looking for a starting pitcher might approach the last-place Cincinnati Reds about Luis Castillo, or the hapless Oakland Athletics about Frankie Montas. Benjamin Hoffman, New York Times, 26 July 2022 John Cusack plays a hapless high schooler in this surprisingly dark 1985 teen comedy directed by Savage Steve Holland. Los Angeles Times, 7 July 2022 Despite being little more than an idea, 3nder got a lot of attention in the sluggish 2014 media environment, when the business strategy for many digital news startups was to make hapless young writers post twenty times a day about press releases. Emily Witt, The New Yorker, 11 July 2022 Players spend a lot of The Quarry watching the hapless counselors navigate their increasingly bloody predicament. Wired, 10 July 2022 Stranger Things Season 4 brought love, loss, and gore for our hapless Hawkins heroes. Milan Polk, Men's Health, 7 July 2022 The last time Glamour spoke with Jack Quaid, in 2019, the actor was in the midst of filming season two of The Boys, reprising his role as Hughie Campbell, the lovable, somewhat hapless nice boy among psychotic supes and unhinged vigilantes. Emily Tannenbaum, Glamour, 1 July 2022 Under the guidance of horror auteur Sam Raimi, Ash exudes the same hapless bluster that fans adore. Sara Netzley, EW.com, 27 June 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'hapless.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of hapless

14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for hapless

see hap entry 1

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The first known use of hapless was in the 14th century

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Last Updated

31 Jul 2022

Cite this Entry

“Hapless.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hapless. Accessed 9 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for hapless


hap·​less | \ ˈha-pləs How to pronounce hapless (audio) \

Kids Definition of hapless

: unfortunate sense 1 The hapless runner tripped during the race.

More from Merriam-Webster on hapless

Nglish: Translation of hapless for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of hapless for Arabic Speakers


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