Cambridge Dictionaries online Cambridge Dictionaries online

The most popular online dictionary and thesaurus for learners of English

English definition of “happen”

happen

verb [I] uk   /ˈhæp.ən/ us  

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 like to think 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.

happen verb [I] (CHANCE)

C1 to do or be by chance: [+ to infinitive] They happened to look (= looked by chance) in the right place almost immediately. [+ (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.

happen

adverb uk   /ˈhæp.ən/ Northern English us  
perhaps: Happen it'll rain later on.
(Definition of happen from the Cambridge Advanced Learners Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)
What is the pronunciation of happen?
Browse related topics

You are looking at an entry to do with Possible and probable, but you might be interested in these topics from the Chance and possibility topic area:

Add Cambridge dictionaries to your browser to your website

Definitions of “happen” in other dictionaries

Word of the Day

mutant

an organism that is different from others of its type because of a permanent change in its genes

Word of the Day

What’s that lovely smell?

by Kate Woodford,
October 29, 2014
As adult humans, we can distinguish about 10,000 different smells. It’s no wonder, then, that we have so many words and expressions to describe them. This week we’re taking a look at those smell words – words that describe good smells and words that describe bad smells. Most smell words are either

Read More 

high-frequency trading noun

October 27, 2014
a type of stock market trading that uses very complex technology to trade extremely quickly, often making tiny profits which nevertheless add up to substantial sums Lewis’s book, Flash Boys, is driving a huge amount of attention toward the topic of high frequency trading, and it has rekindled some of

Read More