hapless

play
adjective hap·less \ˈha-pləs\

Definition of hapless

  1. :  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

haplessly

adverb

haplessness

noun

hapless was our Word of the Day on 09/24/2013. Hear the podcast!

Examples of hapless in a Sentence

  1. She plays the hapless heroine who is unlucky in love.

  2. 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

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").

Origin and Etymology of hapless

see 1hap


HAPLESS Defined for English Language Learners

hapless

play
adjective

Definition of hapless for English Language Learners

  • : having no luck : very unfortunate


HAPLESS Defined for Kids

hapless

play
adjective hap·less \ˈha-pləs\

Definition of hapless for Students

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



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