hap·​pen·​ing | \ ˈhap-niŋ How to pronounce happening (audio) , 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

This two-day day special event commemorates actual happenings at the Homestead, when J.E.B. Stuart’s Cavalry and George Sykes’ Union Corps camped on the site. Lois Szymanski, baltimoresun.com/maryland/carroll, "Central Carroll: Historical Society hosting first Sundae Scoop for National Ice Cream Day," 16 July 2019 In addition, the camp also sells photos of the camp happenings to parents. Jane Stueckemann, Houston Chronicle, "25th anniversary of WOW! science camp in The Woodlands brings animals, experiments to campers," 12 July 2019 An unexpected happening was an impromptu flyover by the Condor Squadron of vintage WWII A-6 airplanes. Jane Napier Neely, latimes.com, "The Valley Line: Flintridge Riding Club hosts June chamber of commerce mixer under the oaks," 1 July 2019 But the best thing is to avoid something big happening, too. Tom Haudricourt, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Brewers 4, Pirates 3: Strong pitching, favorable obstruction play prove to be the difference," 6 Aug. 2019 Real-life happenings are worked into storylines, and storylines wind up warping real life. Casey Newton, The Verge, "Why we like fake stuff on Facebook," 2 Aug. 2019 So, why is this happening—and why are black women at such higher risk? Nina Bahadur, SELF, "We Asked All 2020 Presidential Candidates Their Plans to Address the Black Maternal Mortality Crisis," 30 July 2019 Doing nothing The odds of this happening are the equivalent of a killer comet striking the earth this summer. Larry Light, Fortune, "Here Are the Fed’s Four Options for a Rate Cut—and How the Market Will React to Each," 29 July 2019 Google, however, doesn't seem very concerned about this happening. Julie Muncy, WIRED, "Nintendo's Reportedly Fixing Those Broken Joy-Cons for Free," 26 July 2019

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

5 Sep 2019

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)

informal : 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).


readily or continually undergoing change

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