mis·​hap ˈmis-ˌhap How to pronounce mishap (audio)
: an unfortunate accident
The fire was a tragic mishap that could have been prevented.
: bad luck : misfortune
The ceremony proceeded without mishap.
Choose the Right Synonym for mishap

misfortune, mischance, adversity, mishap mean adverse fortune or an instance of this.

misfortune may apply to either the incident or conjunction of events that is the cause of an unhappy change of fortune or to the ensuing state of distress.

never lost hope even in the depths of misfortune

mischance applies especially to a situation involving no more than slight inconvenience or minor annoyance.

took the wrong road by mischance

adversity applies to a state of grave or persistent misfortune.

had never experienced great adversity

mishap applies to an often trivial instance of bad luck.

the usual mishaps of a family vacation

Examples of mishap in a Sentence

We experienced the usual mishaps of a family vacation. The ceremony proceeded without mishap. The fire was a tragic mishap that could have been prevented.
Recent Examples on the Web Modern Family ran for 11 seasons from 2009 to 2020 and followed the lives, relationships and hilarious mishaps of three different families within one big family. Topher Gauk-Roger, Peoplemag, 19 Nov. 2023 The mishap took place on November 1 while astronauts Jasmin Moghbeli and Loral O’Hara were on their first spacewalk outside the ISS. Sarah Kuta, Smithsonian Magazine, 5 Nov. 2023 The staging had shortcomings and mishaps, but in the character of Caitlyn (played by Jacqueline Misaye), McNulty found some interesting layers. Carolina A. Miranda, Los Angeles Times, 28 Oct. 2023 More accurately, the unfortunate (now demised) tree roses had mishaps with me. Rita Perwich, San Diego Union-Tribune, 7 Oct. 2023 Grateful for the wonderful memories, the mistakes and mishaps, and all the miracles along the way. Erin Clements, Peoplemag, 7 Nov. 2023 When Rainey’s Barbie has a wardrobe mishap, Charlene’s seamstress whips up a white silk miniature version of the traditional Vietnamese dress. Bethanne Patrick, Los Angeles Times, 7 Nov. 2023 Any major brand in the game long enough, soda or otherwise, will suffer some missteps and mishaps. Jamie Bryan, Rolling Stone, 6 Nov. 2023 Though Roos was interrupted by an AV mishap when the screens used to show the jurors the evidence briefly went out in the middle row, the closing argument was smooth. Elizabeth Lopatto, The Verge, 2 Nov. 2023 See More

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

Word History

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of mishap was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near mishap

Cite this Entry

“Mishap.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/mishap. Accessed 29 Nov. 2023.

Kids Definition


mis·​hap ˈmis-ˌhap How to pronounce mishap (audio)
archaic : bad luck
: an unfortunate accident

Middle English mishap "bad luck," from mis- "bad, unfavorable" and hap "chance, chance occurrence" — related to happen, happy, perhaps

More from Merriam-Webster on mishap

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