: having no luck : unfortunate
Did You Know?
Hapless literally means what you'd expect it to mean: "without hap"—hap being another word for fortune or luck. Hap derives from the Old Norse word for "good luck," a word that is also the source of our happen and happy. English has several words to describe those lacking good fortune, including ill-starred, ill-fated, unlucky, and luckless, a word formed in parallel to hapless by adding the suffix -less. Ill-starred suggests bringing calamity or the threat of a terrible fate ("the ill-starred year the Great Depression began"). Ill-fated refers only to being doomed ("the ill-fated voyage of the Titanic"). Unlucky and luckless usually apply to a person or thing notably or chronically unfortunate ("an unlucky slots player," "some luckless investors swindled in the deal").
"Whatever your view of Team USA's rout over Thailand or the way they celebrated every goal over that hapless opponent, the 13-0 opening victory fueled conversation and interest for Sunday's United States-Chile match." — Phil Rosenthal, The Chicago Tribune, 18 June 2019
"David Bareford got into violence design when he was living in Chicago and struggling along as 'an OK actor in a town where there were a million OK actors….' He decided not to fight those odds; instead he embraced the stage-combat skills that came from acting in Shakespeare tragedies, which usually involve kings, soldiers and other hapless figures eagerly running one another through." — Scott Hewitt, The Columbian (Vancouver, Washington), 13 June 2019
Test Your Vocabulary with M-W Quizzes
Name That Synonym
Unscramble the letters to create a synonym of hapless: tsinabek.VIEW THE ANSWER
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