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happen definition


This page has 7 definitions of happen in English and Dutch, Flemish. Happen is a verb, an adverb and noun. Examples of how to use happen in a sentence are shown. Also define these 0 related words and terms: .

See also: Happen

English happen definition


From Middle English happenen, hapnen, augmented from Middle English happen (to come to pass, happen), perhaps from Old English hæppan (to move accidentally, slip) and/or from Old Norse *happa, *heppa, from Proto-Germanic *hampijaną (to fit in, be fitting). Equivalent to hap (a chance, occurrence, byfall) +‎ -en (verbal suffix).



happen (third-person singular simple present happens, present participle happening, simple past and past participle happened)

  1. (intransitive) To occur or take place.
    Synonyms: come to pass; see also Thesaurus:happen
    Let me tell you how it happened.
  2. (transitive, archaic) To happen to; to befall.
    • 1863, Sheridan Le Fanu, The House by the Churchyard:
      'By my soul! I believe something bad has happened me,' he muttered, and popped up his window, and looked out, half dreaming over the church-yard on the park beyond []
  3. (intransitive or impersonal, with infinitive) To do or occur by chance or unexpectedly.
    Take an umbrella in case it happens to rain.
    Do you happen to have an umbrella?
    I happened to get wet.
  4. (followed by on or upon) To encounter by chance.
    • 1860, Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Marble Faun, ch. 30:
      Unexpectedly, in a nook close by the farmhouse, he happened upon a spot where the vintage had actually commenced.

Usage notes

Derived terms

Related terms



happen (not comparable)

  1. (obsolete or dialect) maybe, perhaps.
    (The addition of quotations indicative of this usage is being sought:)

Dutch happen definition


hap (bite) +‎ -en




  1. to take a bite


Inflection of happen (weak)
infinitive happen
past singular hapte
past participle gehapt
infinitive happen
gerund happen n
present tense past tense
1st person singular hap hapte
2nd person sing. (jij) hapt hapte
2nd person sing. (u) hapt hapte
2nd person sing. (gij) hapt hapte
3rd person singular hapt hapte
plural happen hapten
subjunctive sing.1 happe hapte
subjunctive plur.1 happen hapten
imperative sing. hap
imperative plur.1 hapt
participles happend gehapt
1) Archaic.


  • Papiamentu: hap



  1. Plural form of hap