Meaning of “happen” in the English Dictionary

"happen" in British English

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happenverb [ I ]

uk /ˈhæp.ən/ us /ˈhæp.ən/

happen verb [ I ] (HAVE EXISTENCE)

A2 (of a situation or an event) to have existence or come into existence:

No one knows exactly what happened but several people have been hurt.
Anything could happen in the next half hour.
A funny thing happened in the office today.
I don't want to think about what might have happened if he'd been driving any faster.
happen to sb

A2 If something happens to someone or something, it has an effect on him, her, or it:

I don't know what I'd do if anything happened to him (= if he was hurt, became ill, or died).
What happened to your jacket? There's a big rip in the sleeve.
What's happened to my pen? (= Where is it?) I put it down there a few moments ago.

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happen verb [ I ] (CHANCE)

C1 to do or be by chance:

[ + (that) ] Fortunately it happened (that) there was no one in the house at the time of the explosion.
[ + that ] It just so happens that I have her phone number right here.
She happens to like cleaning (= she likes cleaning, although that is surprising).
I happen to think he's right (= I do think so, although you do not).
As it happened (= although it was not planned), I had a few minutes to spare.

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uk /ˈhæp.ən/ us /ˈhæp.ən/ UK Northern English

(Definition of “happen” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"happen" in American English

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happenverb [ I ]

us /ˈhæp·ən/

happen verb [ I ] (HAVE EXISTENCE)

(of a situation or event) to come into existence; occur:

If you want to know what is happening in the world, you have to read the newspapers.
No one knows exactly what happened, but several people have been hurt.

If a situation or event happens to someone or something, it has an effect on that person or thing:

What happened to Phil? I thought he would be here by now.

happen verb [ I ] (CHANCE)

to do or be by chance:

[ + to infinitive ] I happened to come across this book I think you would like.
[ + to infinitive ] I happen to think he’s right (= I do, although others may not).

(Definition of “happen” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

"happen" in Business English

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happenverb [ I ]

uk /ˈhæpən/ us

to exist or begin to exist because of an action, situation, or event:

The one course of events no one anticipated was the one that happened: a long period of stagnation that threatened the assumptions of the European welfare state.
The market highs have provided an impetus for companies to sell their shares before investors lose interest, which often happens during a holiday week.

to be done or exist by chance:

What happens in one country or region may not happen in another.
happen by accident/chance "The state's economic vitality has not happened by accident," he said.
happen to sb/sth

to affect someone or something in a way that changes something:

Everywhere I go people are becoming more and more depressed by what is happening to their savings.
happen overnight

to be done or come into existence suddenly:

did not/may not/will not happen overnight This crisis didn't happen overnight.

(Definition of “happen” from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)