hap·​pen·​stance | \ˈha-pən-ˌstan(t)s, 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

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 That reduces the likelihood that this was just happenstance. Aaron Blake, Washington Post, "The stench of Michael Cohen’s consulting business grows," 26 May 2018 The sort of belt that would give a girl a fit of delight in a vintage store or be found by happenstance in a relative's closet. Laura Brown, Harper's BAZAAR, "The Look: Totally Waisted," 25 Aug. 2015 By happenstance, the ruling came down as the Legislature considers still another foray into controlling what Californians may legally say. Dan Walters, SFChronicle.com, "Supreme Court voids California law, upholds free speech," 27 June 2018 That team had squared off with the Warriors almost by happenstance, thanks to an unbelievable comeback against the Clippers, and had been routed in short order. Ben Golliver, SI.com, "From Sixth Man to MVP: James Harden Reflects on Steady Climb to NBA Mountain Top," 26 June 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

14 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for happenstance

The first known use of happenstance was in 1857

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More Definitions for happenstance



English Language Learners Definition of happenstance

: something that happens by chance

More from Merriam-Webster on happenstance

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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).


to make faulty or ineffective

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