hap·​pen·​ing | \ˈhap-niŋ, ˈha-pə-\

Definition of happening 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : something that happens : occurrence

2 : an event or series of events designed to evoke a spontaneous reaction to sensory, emotional, or spiritual stimuli

3 : something (such as an event) that is particularly interesting, entertaining, or important



Definition of happening (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : very fashionable : in a happening hairstyle

2 : offering much stimulating activity a happening dance club

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Synonyms & Antonyms for happening

Synonyms: Noun

adventure, emprise, experience, exploit, gest (or geste), time

Synonyms: Adjective

à la mode (also a la mode), au courant, chic, cool [slang], exclusive, fashionable, fresh [slang], hip, in, modish, sharp, smart, snappy, stylish, supercool, swell, swish, trendy, voguish

Antonyms: Adjective

dowdy, out, outmoded, styleless, unchic, uncool, unfashionable, unmodish, unstylish

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Examples of happening in a Sentence


the President's visit to the school was a real happening for teachers and students alike gave a detailed account of all the happenings of the weekend


This is quite a happening town on the weekends. those are some happening duds, man
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

These new routes and airline updates are in response to a perfect storm of cultural and celebrity happenings which, over the last couple years, firmly reignited America’s infatuation with Tahiti. Cynthia Drescher, Condé Nast Traveler, "Why Everyone Is Suddenly Traveling to Tahiti," 9 Nov. 2018 Here’s how to follow the NYC happenings on Recode and on social media. Recode Staff, Recode, "Recode Daily: Code Commerce is here; Marc Benioff buys Time," 17 Sep. 2018 And the synopsis points to something drastic happening. Megan Friedman, Good Housekeeping, "The First Look at ABC’s ‘The Conners’ Teases Some Dark News for the Family," 12 Sep. 2018 In other words, get ready for some serious interpersonal happenings. Aliza Kelly Faragher, Allure, "What September's Aries Horoscope Means for You," 30 Aug. 2018 To that end, the platform will have moderated discussion forums, an encyclopedia, and blogs to keep fans up to date on all the happenings within the DC world. Andrew Liptak, The Verge, "DC Universe: all the updates for DC’s streaming service," 26 Aug. 2018 The Los Angeles photographer has covered iconic musical events (the Doors at the Whisky a-Go-Go, anyone?), key civil rights happenings (the East L.A. walkouts and the farmworkers strikes of the ’60s) and so much in between. Carolina A. Miranda, latimes.com, "Datebook: Shots of old Route 66, dreamlike paintings and garments fashioned from paper," 12 July 2018 With all of this happening, Kim says that the usual go-to move in television is to have a stereotypical love triangle in which women are pitted against one another. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "'Grey’s Anatomy' Fans Will Not Be Able to Handle What Kim Raver Just Spilled About Teddy," 25 Oct. 2018 The likelihood of that happening by random chance was 1 in 2,500. Dave Michaels, WSJ, "SEC Probes Whether Companies Rounded Up Earnings Per Share," 22 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

What was once a sleepy college town next to a railroad stop is now one of the most happening cities in the state of Texas. Craig Hlavaty, Houston Chronicle, "See the evolution of College Station and Texas A&M in vintage photos," 5 Apr. 2018 Waco was already a happening place before the Gaines began remodeling homes. Craig Hlavaty, Houston Chronicle, "The Texas city on TripAdvisor’s ‘Destinations on the Rise’ list probably isn’t what you think," 16 Feb. 2018 In any case, these days, the most happening stuff is often happening between the floats. NOLA.com, "37 nutty Mardi Gras dance and marching groups ... and counting," 1 Feb. 2018 Don’t forget to stop by the Mallmart parking lot after a Friday night football game for the most happening tailgate parties. Jessica Macleish, Teen Vogue, "Every Brand “Riverdale” Mentions," 23 Jan. 2018 Again in 1921, that very happening year, the poet Manuel Maples Arce plastered Mexico City with broadsheets announcing the birth of a cultural movement. Holland Cotter, New York Times, "“Paint the Revolution: Mexican Modernism, 1910-1950”," 27 Oct. 2016

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'happening.' 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 happening


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1965, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for happening

Last Updated

28 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for happening

The first known use of happening was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for happening



English Language Learners Definition of happening

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: an event or occurrence



English Language Learners Definition of happening (Entry 2 of 2)

: fashionable or popular


hap·​pen·​ing | \ˈha-pə-niŋ, ˈhap-niŋ\

Kids Definition of happening

: something that occurs It was a week of strange happenings.

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Comments on happening

What made you want to look up happening? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to enclose within walls

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