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
hapless was our Word of the Day on 09/24/2013. Hear the podcast!
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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 of hapless from the Web
George Bush digs deeper into his foreign-policy bunker, allergic to domestic concerns; the Democrats, hapless and divided, drift farther from the presidential mainstream.
Portugal played its last Confederations Cup group stage match on Saturday, an easy 4-0 win over hapless New Zealand where Ronaldo was substituted with more than 20 minutes left.
A second is that Clinton triumphed because his staff were able to craft a coherent, disciplined message and to present the president not as an angry aggressor but as the hapless victim of vindictive opponents.
Mr. Piersall played for the Washington Senators’ new expansion franchise in 1962 before being traded in 1963 to the hapless New York Mets.
And Palestinians would begin to make the transition from hapless refugees in the 1940s and 1950s to terrorists and guerrillas during the 1960s and 1970s to political interlocutors by the 1980s.
During every regular session of the Legislature, lawmakers introduce plenty of misguided, ill-conceived or just plain hapless bills.
Last year and the year before, being a Fire fan was to wallow in the cold mud pits of hell, half blind, wearing an idiotic, hapless grin.
Nicholas II was hapless and hopelessly out of touch.
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.
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").
HAPLESS Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of hapless for English Language Learners
: having no luck : very unfortunate
HAPLESS Defined for Kids
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