hap·​pen | \ ˈha-pən How to pronounce happen (audio) , -pᵊm \
happened; happening\ ˈhap-​niŋ How to pronounce happen (audio) , ˈha-​pə-​ \

Definition of happen

intransitive verb

1 : to occur by chance often used with it it so happens I'm going your way
2 : to come into being or occur as an event, process, or result mistakes will happen
3 : to do, encounter, or attain something by or as if by chance I happen to know the answer
4a : to meet or discover something by chance happened upon a system that worked— Richard Corbin
b : to come or go casually : make a chance appearance he might happen by at any time
5 : to come especially by way of injury or harm I promise nothing will happen to you

Examples of happen in a Sentence

Something like that was bound to happen sooner or later. You never know what's going to happen when they get together. What happened at school today? “What's happening?” “They're installing new equipment.”
Recent Examples on the Web From Newton to Milwaukee Back in 1994, as a young assistant director, Unger didn't have the clout to make a production happen. Jim Higgins, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 11 May 2022 Thank you to my rock star surrogate (ALL surrogates are rockstars, by the way) and everyone who helped make this miracle happen. Janine Henni, PEOPLE.com, 10 May 2022 What took the Buckeyes 10 years to accomplish on the recruiting trail, Day was able to make happen in half that time with three of the last four cycles producing players of that caliber. Stephen Means, cleveland, 10 May 2022 Rachel, Chuck Schumer said the Senate will vote on Wednesday on a bill that would codify Roe and there’s just really no chance that that’s going to happen. ABC News, 8 May 2022 Duggan said Mark Stewart, Stellantis' chief operating officer for North America, actually had to overrule the company's human resources department to make the then-unique hiring process happen. Eric D. Lawrence, Detroit Free Press, 6 May 2022 Lawmakers will have to act quickly to make that happen. NBC News, 4 May 2022 In order to make that happen, Butler, whose donation kick-started the campaign, ended his comments at the news conference by offering a plea for financial help from more business leaders of the community. Brooks Sutherland, The Enquirer, 4 May 2022 But none of these fixes is going to happen in the short term, and in the meantime hospitals and health systems are trying to cope. Amy Feldman, Forbes, 3 May 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'happen.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of happen

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for happen

Middle English, from hap

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Time Traveler for happen

Time Traveler

The first known use of happen was in the 14th century

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Dictionary Entries Near happen



happen along

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Statistics for happen

Last Updated

14 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Happen.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/happen. Accessed 24 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for happen


hap·​pen | \ ˈha-pən How to pronounce happen (audio) \
happened; happening

Kids Definition of happen

1 : to take place Stop crying and tell me what happened.
2 : to occur or come about by chance It just so happens I know them.
3 : to do or be by chance I happened to overhear this.
4 : to come especially by way of injury or harm Nothing will happen to you.

More from Merriam-Webster on happen

Nglish: Translation of happen for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of happen for Arabic Speakers


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