hap·​pen·​stance | \ ˈha-pən-ˌstan(t)s How to pronounce happenstance (audio) , ˈha-pᵊm-\

Definition of happenstance

: a circumstance especially that is due to chance They came together by mere happenstance.

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Other Words from 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.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Everybody’s looking for something, or someone, or some happenstance to pull them out of their loop. Tasha Robinson, The Verge, "Steven Yeun on Burning, The Walking Dead, and changing roles for Asian-Americans," 4 Nov. 2018 While the documentary is being made, his photographs are discovered almost by happenstance, by a friend with connections to the art world — and Hogancamp finds himself with an exhibition at a gallery in Greenwich Village. Alissa Wilkinson, Vox, "Before you see Welcome to Marwen, stream the documentary about the true story behind it," 21 Dec. 2018 Mario Tama / Getty Images Elon Musk unintentionally avoided a real crisis of happenstance this fall. Theodore Schleifer, Recode, "Elon Musk says he ‘probably’ wouldn’t take money from the Saudis now," 2 Nov. 2018 Photo: David Davies/PA Wire/Zuma Press That is not merely a happenstance working in Europe’s favor. Brian Costa, WSJ, "American Golfers Ponder Foreign Concept—Hitting Fairways," 27 Sep. 2018 Corcoran built Itchio haphazardly and by happenstance, starting in 2013. Patricia Hernandez, The Verge, "The game store that outshines Steam by staying small and weird," 29 Nov. 2018 Also by happenstance, the music directors of both orchestras were once assistant conductors of the Boston Symphony Orchestra: Marcelo Lehninger in Grand Rapids and Carl St. Clair in Orange County. James R. Oestreich, New York Times, "Review: Two U.S. Orchestras Get a Rare Chance at Carnegie," 23 Apr. 2018 Just an unfortunate happenstance, but at least the bird wasn't injured! Daniel Rapaport, SI.com, "FORE Questions: No Live Coverage of the RBC Heritage, Is Jon Rahm Underrated?," 16 Apr. 2018 The message O’Connor sent with the benchings on Saturday night was, in essence, telling the players to stop deluding themselves into thinking the nine-match losing streak was some fluky happenstance of bad breaks, bad officiating and bad coaching. Mike Bianchi, Pro Soccer USA, "James O’Connor is finally forcing Orlando City’s players to look in the mirror," 14 July 2018

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

1857, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for happenstance

happen + circumstance

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Statistics for happenstance

Last Updated

23 Feb 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for happenstance

The first known use of happenstance was in 1857

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English Language Learners Definition of happenstance

formal + literary : something that happens by chance

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More from Merriam-Webster on happenstance

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with happenstance

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for happenstance

Nglish: Translation of happenstance for Spanish Speakers

Comments on happenstance

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


a shady place in a garden or forest

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