happen

verb
hap·​pen | \ ˈha-pən How to pronounce happen (audio) , -pᵊm\
happened; happening\ ˈhap-​niŋ How to pronounce happening (audio) , ˈha-​pə-​ \

Definition of happen

intransitive verb

1 : to occur by chance often used with it it so happens I'm going your way
2 : to come into being or occur as an event, process, or result mistakes will happen
3 : to do, encounter, or attain something by or as if by chance I happen to know the answer
4a : to meet or discover something by chance happened upon a system that worked— Richard Corbin
b : to come or go casually : make a chance appearance he might happen by at any time
5 : to come especially by way of injury or harm I promise nothing will happen to you

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Examples of happen in a Sentence

Something like that was bound to happen sooner or later. You never know what's going to happen when they get together. What happened at school today? “What's happening?” “They're installing new equipment.”
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Recent Examples on the Web

Or maybe starting a conversation with your neighbors about what’s happening at the border. Glamour, "Untold Numbers of Mothers Separated From Their Children Will Spend Mother’s Day Alone," 10 May 2019 Those explosions can have pretty significant consequences when a fire breaks out near a concrete structure, but the actual process of how the blowups happen isn't very well understood by scientists. Avery Thompson, Popular Mechanics, "Watch Concrete Blow Up When Heated (and See Why It Happens)," 6 May 2019 Apparently, there are a lot of other royal events happening this week: Prince Charles and Duchess Camilla are going to Germany tomorrow and Prince William and Duchess Kate are visiting Wales on Wednesday. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Prince Harry Still Reportedly Plans to Visit the Netherlands Days After the Royal Baby's Birth," 6 May 2019 Investments in improving those capabilities need to be made before a crisis — not while one is already happening. Kelsey Piper, Vox, "Why disaster relief is so hard," 25 Mar. 2019 My whole project is just genuine moments that happened in my life that created a song. Sandra Song, Teen Vogue, "Ash B Is the Voguing Rapper Subverting Femininity With Her "Memories of an A.G."," 19 Apr. 2019 The intro also shows that the Wall has fallen down, which happened in the Season 7 finale. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "The Game of Thrones Season 8 Title Sequence Is Completely Different," 15 Apr. 2019 Plus, David James Elliott and Catherine Bell are reprising their JAG characters for four episodes, and two of those are reportedly happening in the next season. Megan Stein, Country Living, "'NCIS: Los Angeles' Sparks Concern That the Show Might Be Ending," 14 Apr. 2019 What’s happening in Austin is a microcosm of the nationwide effort to let entrepreneurs and military meet face-to-face. Joe Pappalardo, Popular Mechanics, "Disrupting the Pentagon: Can the Air Force Learn To Love Startup Culture?," 12 Apr. 2019

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

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First Known Use of happen

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for happen

Middle English, from hap

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Statistics for happen

Last Updated

14 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for happen

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

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More Definitions for happen

happen

verb

English Language Learners Definition of happen

: to take place especially without being planned
: to do or be something by chance
used with it to describe something that occurs by chance

happen

verb
hap·​pen | \ ˈha-pən How to pronounce happen (audio) \
happened; happening

Kids Definition of happen

1 : to take place Stop crying and tell me what happened.
2 : to occur or come about by chance It just so happens I know them.
3 : to do or be by chance I happened to overhear this.
4 : to come especially by way of injury or harm Nothing will happen to you.

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More from Merriam-Webster on happen

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with happen

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for happen

Spanish Central: Translation of happen

Nglish: Translation of happen for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of happen for Arabic Speakers

Comments on happen

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