Definition of happen in English:



  • 1Take place; occur.

    ‘the afternoon when the disturbance happened’
    • ‘So in each little street an injury accident happens about once every 40 years.’
    • ‘‘We believe what happened must be an accident because he had so much to live for,’ she said.’
    • ‘Motorist Pete Richardson was following the Discovery when the accident happened.’
    • ‘Stop blaming parents for every accident that happens.’
    • ‘And Cllr Rosaleen O'Grady warned that something will need to be done before a serious accident happens in the area.’
    • ‘Some of the accidents happened during the pursuit of criminals but none resulted in the deaths of either PCs or civilians.’
    • ‘Whenever a traffic accident happens, the traffic police make an investigation to find out whose fault it was.’
    • ‘In the world of chime, accidents happen and the results are stunning.’
    • ‘But surely the chances of a similar accident happening again are astronomical.’
    • ‘Rather in keeping with the tenor of the match, one of the most significant developments happened by accident.’
    • ‘So in this bill the Minister of Transport is to be held directly responsible when accidents happen.’
    • ‘Nobody wants an accident to happen but if the present chaos continues it is inevitable.’
    • ‘He had been contracted by Hood Yacht Spars to transport their masts when the accident had happened.’
    • ‘Sun mentioned that whenever an accident happens, the mass media tends to over-criticize the service provider.’
    • ‘Sometimes an accident may occur in circumstances in which accidents do not normally happen unless there has been negligence by someone.’
    • ‘He had been working in the Murphy Transport-operated compound at the docks when the accident happened.’
    • ‘The accident happened at the Namuang falls on the island of Koh Samui.’
    • ‘If anyone in the ministry is reading this and can do something about it, please do before a major accident happens.’
    • ‘It is not clear how the accident happened, and police are interviewing all the teaching staff present as part of their inquiry.’
    • ‘It seems a complete and utter sham that change and improvements can only happen following an accident.’
    occur, take place, come about, come off, come into being
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    1. 1.1Ensue as an effect or result of an action or event.
      ‘this is what happens when the mechanism goes wrong’
      • ‘Catastrophic things can happen from accidents during transportation and handling.’
      • ‘It's a double Bank Holiday and, as you'd expect, there are plenty of special events happening in York's nightspots this weekend.’
      • ‘Accidents that have been happening as a result of the failed traffic lights should be blamed on the council.’
      • ‘Every employer is required by law to carry out a risk assessment to monitor and minimise the risk of accidents in the workplace, and to take steps to prevent accidents happening.’
      • ‘As it turns out, the exact opposite of the ‘trickle down effect’ is what happens in the real world!’
      • ‘Collaborative efforts to aid the development of new policies that reduce the chance of an accident happening again are needed.’
      • ‘It's more what happens at events like county fairs, where you line up buttons for both parties and see what sells.’
      • ‘Even the thin can't escape the waist/belly concertina effect that happens after a certain age when you sit down.’
      • ‘They say on the Row that no one is there by accident, and nothing happens without a reason.’
      • ‘This conversation mostly focused around what happens in the event of a verdict.’
      • ‘It's almost like this dominoes effect that starts happening once the administration decides it's going to do this.’
      • ‘This will not only enhance the State's development but also help to reduce the accidents happening owing to road damage.’
      • ‘He said neither of the stars wished to be seen by their public behaving in an unrestrained manner, which is what happens at events such as weddings.’
      • ‘There is a whole sequence of events that happens when those pilots take that landing gear handle and retract the landing gear.’
      • ‘The accident happened at Oakworth after the vehicle was followed by police from Oxenhope four miles away.’
      • ‘What happens with a breaking event such as hurricane Katrina hitting New Orleans?’
      • ‘The local communities are in fear of another serious accident happening and some people are using alternative routes to avoid the Crossroads.’
      • ‘The authorities must move now before some drastic fire or accident happens.’
      • ‘If an accident happens as a consequence, they will know who to blame.’
      • ‘Dump trucks are banned from driving down any of West Vancouver's steep streets in an attempt to prevent this kind of accident from happening.’
      • ‘His exhibition, Senseless, depicts the effects of what happens when people are deprived of the five senses.’
      • ‘Despite the notional use of single-member constituencies, this is in effect what happens in Malaysia.’
    2. 1.2[with infinitive]Chance to do something or come about.
      ‘we just happened to meet Paul’
      ‘there happens to be a clash of personalities’
      • ‘If someone does happen to talk to you about their problems, you will use it as blackmail.’
      • ‘I did happen to see this episode.’
      • ‘I happen to be a swede myself!!’
      • ‘I happen to be very good at what I do and I do work unpaid overtime or weekends, both when it's needed or when I just need to pretend that I'm a hard worker.’
      • ‘Five accomplished Hispanic nurses who just happen to be guys talk about the special challenges they face and the unique strengths they bring to the table.’
      discover unexpectedly, find unexpectedly, find by chance, chance on, stumble on, hit on, light on, come on, come across, run across, blunder on, unearth, uncover, locate, bring to light
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    3. 1.3[with clause]Come about by chance.
      ‘it just so happened that she turned up that afternoon’
      • ‘It just so happened that the qualities consumers desired were those promoted by the market.’
      • ‘It just so happened that the training camp for the world junior team was in Toronto, my hometown.’
      • ‘It happened that the author was also given some leeway with respect to the creative details.’
      • ‘Now it just so happened that about a dozen people decided to head for the checkouts at about the same time, causing a queue of about four people at each till.’
      • ‘It happened that the aiming points of the top two targets I was using were just over seven inches apart.’
      • ‘Fortuitously, it happened that I was looking in to the valley with the airport in it.’
      • ‘It just so happened that shortly thereafter lightning struck the bar and it burned to the ground.’
      • ‘It just so happened that every ten feet on this path there were sprinkler heads sticking out of the ground.’
      • ‘It just so happened that the young girl in the padded room below him was allergic to the drug and was now severely ill.’
      • ‘It just so happened that that coincided with the beginning of the Jazz Fest and our new series there.’
      • ‘Both are moving away, and it happened that both of them had the same last day.’
      • ‘He was always accusing someone of doing something and it just so happened that he did that the most with her.’
      • ‘It just so happened that a man dressed in black was running shortly after her.’
      • ‘It just so happened that Brown's house needed some work, so she cashed the check.’
      • ‘It just so happened that elocution lessons were scheduled for the two older girls for an hour that day.’
      • ‘It just so happened that two weeks ago I was in the Matamata New World.’
      • ‘It happened that within 10 years we were all back here running the whole company from Edinburgh.’
      • ‘It happened that the New York Times reviewer liked the book and gave it a good review, so it opened up a lot of fronts.’
      • ‘The light was fading, the grandfather was lit-up and so it happened that the bay window across the back wall got in the way of a slug.’
      • ‘It happened that it was the first convent in Tubbercurry long before the Marist Convent was put into operation.’
      chance, have the bad fortune, have the good fortune, have the ill fortune, have the bad luck, have the good luck, have the ill luck, be someone's fortune, be someone's misfortune
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    4. 1.4Find or come across by chance.
      ‘Mike played football as a boy and happened on cycling by accident’
      • ‘That kind of accident can happen on a smaller race track too.’
      • ‘Someone kicks the ball and 100 people chase after it hoping to be noticed without a care as to what happens on the field.’
      • ‘But training in those countries usually happens on the track, enabling horses to practise with the real thing.’
      • ‘I find that we're so tame, that nothing really insane happens on the road.’
      • ‘You've got some that do and you've got some that don't, and that doesn't mix and that's what happens on the race track.’
      • ‘And the chances of that happening on the Down Under tour have narrowed due to England's injury crisis.’
      • ‘This change seeks to treat bowling actions quite separately from everything else that happens on the field of play.’
      • ‘Well, we've said all along that the only poll that counts is the one that happens on Election Day.’
      • ‘For me, what happens on the pitch is only half the allure of Cricket.’
      • ‘A van and four cars were involved in the smash which happened on the London-bound track at Boreham.’
      • ‘The happiness we get in exchange for virtue could happen on the spot or in the future.’
      • ‘In Muscat's world, what happens on the pitch stays on the pitch.’
      • ‘It's a lot of hard work, and I don't mean just about what happens on the racetrack.’
      • ‘What happens on a Sunday truly matters, and when the Bears lost yet again last weekend, the searing pain seeped down the terracing.’
      • ‘He always thought it was because of what happened on their second encounter.’
      • ‘I can foresee that, as already happens on the Continent, certain agents will be invited to align themselves with clubs.’
      • ‘The accident happened on the London-bound track just after the Witham north turning.’
      • ‘There is far more to life than what happens on a pitch, on a track or in the arena.’
      • ‘Whatever happens on Wednesday, it is surely time for decent Rangers supporters to have their voices heard above the bigots.’
      • ‘If he goes to sleep often enough in his hotel room, there is less chance of it happening on the pitch.’
    5. 1.5[with infinitive]Used as a polite formula in questions.
      ‘do you happen to know who her doctor is?’
      • ‘Did anyone happen to see David Letterman the other night when he was playing "Psychic Salad"?’
      • ‘Did his boss happen to ask "Do I look like a moron to you?"’
      • ‘Did anyone happen to see the alternate ending that is floating around the internet?’
      • ‘You didn't happen to ask how far ahead it could be booked, did you?’
      • ‘By the way, did you happen to ask the Canadians what they thought of their country's health care system?’
  • 2Be experienced by (someone); befall.

    ‘the same thing happened to me’
    • ‘There has been a lot of Reg reader debate over what exactly will happen to findings from the project.’
    • ‘You feel like you are the only one it is happening to, even if thousands of sportsmen experience the same thing each year.’
    • ‘Now the average man on the street is not going to get worked up over what happens to hedge funds.’
    • ‘But her experiences made her determined to prevent the same thing happening to others.’
    • ‘Did he not pass on his apprehensions over what was happening to a senior figure in the party at the time?’
    • ‘Courts and academics brush over what actually happens to such videos once they leave the sex shop.’
    • ‘She said to me that she did not know what had happened to her, she felt as if she fell down.’
    • ‘What is there to stop the same thing happening to the Bulls should they experience a downturn in fortunes?’
    • ‘Has anyone else had anything like any of these experiences happen to them before?’
    • ‘The most difficult decision facing the school must be over what happens to Anne Williams.’
    • ‘The banks are due to meet again at the end of February to take a final decision over what should happen to charges.’
    • ‘When you start on the slippery slope you don't know what's happening to you because you haven't got the experience.’
    • ‘We are just doing it from past experiences and what we have seen and what's happened to us.’
    • ‘This is my first book so everything that is happening to me is a big surprise.’
    • ‘I called the help desk last week for the first time to find out what is happening to my claim and to my surprise I got through to a lady first time.’
    • ‘What will happen to the money put aside for a possible fire strike if this is averted?’
    • ‘All the while I can't stop thinking about what will happen to me if I fall into that void.’
    • ‘No matter what happens to our nation, even when Egypt may fall on hard times, we can never be ignored.’
    • ‘This is exactly the sort of thing that always happens to me though, so I shouldn't be surprised.’
    • ‘Was he trying to pay back his debt, or was he really worried over what would happen to me?’
    befall, happen to, come upon, hit, strike, fall on, overwhelm, overpower, overcome, be visited on, engulf, sweep over, take by surprise, surprise, catch unawares, catch unprepared, catch off guard
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    1. 2.1Become of.
      ‘I don't care what happens to the money’
      become of, be the fate of, be the lot of, overtake, be visited on
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  • as it happens

    • Actually; as a matter of fact.

      ‘we've got a room vacant, as it happens’
      • ‘So this theory of who is the bad wolf was actually brought up on the other thread as it happens.’
      • ‘The Potter books actually work for me better as films, as it happens.’
      • ‘Mink, as it happens, are also small, furry and kind of cute-looking.’
      • ‘Now, as it happens, I once worked with one of the radio DJs whose name I've heard bandied about as a suspect over the weekend.’
      • ‘The phrase ‘groupthink’ will probably set Alex Jones on edge, as it happens to be one of his favourites.’
      • ‘This evening, I found myself contemplating The Real World Consultant, who is, as it happens, my brother.’
      • ‘Keith Burgess-Jackson has just put something up on Aquinas, as it happens.’
      • ‘I was, as it happens, offered herbal tea but no one lectured me when I plumped for the caffeine-loaded coffee option.’
      • ‘I've also recently registered myself in Dorset South, the UK's most marginal seat, as it happens.’
      • ‘And, as it happens, people taking over ruins and renovating them will still be exempt from paying council tax for a year.’
      as expected, to be sure, in fact, in point of fact, as a matter of fact, in truth, truly, actually, really, in reality, as it happened, as it happens, certainly, surely, for sure, undeniably, veritably, nay, if truth be told, you could say
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Late Middle English (superseding the verb hap): from the noun hap + -en.