hap·​pen·​stance ˈha-pən-ˌstan(t)s How to pronounce happenstance (audio)
: a circumstance especially that is due to chance
They came together by mere happenstance.
happenstance adjective

Examples of happenstance in a Sentence

Our meeting was pure happenstance. We met each other by happenstance. It was an agreeable happenstance that we met.
Recent Examples on the Web Her days, like her characters’, were filled with quotidian routines punctuated by the explosive mystery of happenstance and accident. Anthony Depalma, New York Times, 14 May 2024 By pure happenstance, Evelyn found a Spanish historian, Josep Calvet, whose research specializes in refugees’ escape from Nazism through Spain and the Pyrenees during the Second World War. Lauren Costantino, Miami Herald, 6 May 2024 Neither Luke nor Paul rose to power by happenstance: Their paths, in fact, were laid out for them long before either were born. Eric Lagatta, USA TODAY, 4 May 2024 But in the realm of the happenstance gesture—the absent-minded tug of a shirt collar, maybe, or a glance so fleeting the camera could almost miss it—Gosling may be Brando’s truest heir. Stephanie Zacharek, TIME, 1 May 2024 Surely Ditto would have to chalk this garish yet strangely cohesive vision up to more than just happenstance? Liam Hess, Vogue, 25 Mar. 2024 This is, by no happenstance, also the basic question about computing in our society writ large. Ian Bogost, The Atlantic, 19 Mar. 2024 Maury became a travel specialist by happenstance while living overseas; friends persistently asked her advice due to her insiderish knowledge and fine taste. The Editors, Robb Report, 13 Mar. 2024 Some of them arise by in a sense happenstance, while others are baked into the pudding. Lance Eliot, Forbes, 29 Feb. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'happenstance.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


happen + circumstance

First Known Use

1857, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of happenstance was in 1857

Dictionary Entries Near happenstance

Cite this Entry

“Happenstance.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/happenstance. Accessed 28 May. 2024.

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