happen Definition in the Cambridge English Dictionary Cambridge dictionaries logo

Definition of “happen” - English Dictionary

"happen" in American English

See all translations

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 ​knowsexactly 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, ​althoughothers may not).
(Definition of happen from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)







"happen" in British English

See all translations

happenverb [I]

uk   us   /ˈhæp.ən/
  • happen verb [I] (HAVE EXISTENCE)

A2 (of a ​situation or an ​event) to have ​existence or come into ​existence: No one ​knowsexactly what happened but several ​people have been ​hurt. Anything could happen in the next ​halfhour. 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, ​becameill, or ​died). What happened to ​yourjacket? There's a ​bigrip in the ​sleeve. What's happened to my ​pen? (= Where is it?) I put it down there a few ​moments ago.

expend iconexpend iconMore examples

  • happen verb [I] (CHANCE)

C1 to do or be by ​chance: [+ to infinitive] They happened tolook (= ​looked by ​chance) in the ​rightplacealmostimmediately. [+ (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 ​phonenumberright here. She happens to like ​cleaning (= she ​likescleaning, ​although that is ​surprising). I happen tothink 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.

expend iconexpend iconMore examples

  • On Sundays I just ​wear any ​old thing that I happen to ​findlying around.
  • Did she happen to ​mention whether she would be coming?
  • I just happened to be ​walking past when he came out of the ​shop.
  • Jack happens to be a ​cousin of mine, so I'll ​introduce you to him.
  • Do you happen to ​know what ​time the next ​bus is ​due?

happenadverb

uk   us   /ˈhæp.ən/ UK Northern English
(Definition of happen from the Cambridge Advanced Learners Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"happen" in Business English

See all translations

happenverb [I]

uk   us   /ˈhæpən/
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 ​longperiod of ​stagnation that threatened the assumptions of the ​Europeanwelfarestate. The ​markethighs have ​provided an impetus for ​companies to ​sell their ​shares before ​investorsloseinterest, 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)
What is the pronunciation of happen?
Add Cambridge dictionaries to your browser to your website

“happen” in Business English

Word of the Day

costume

the set of clothes typical of a particular country or period of history, or suitable for a particular activity

Word of the Day

I used to work hard/I’m used to working hard (Phrases with ‘used to’)
I used to work hard/I’m used to working hard (Phrases with ‘used to’)
by Kate Woodford,
February 10, 2016
On this blog, we like to look at words and phrases in the English language that learners often have difficulty with. Two phrases that can be confused are ‘used to do something’ and ‘be used to something/doing something’. People often use one phrase when they mean the other, or they use the wrong

Read More 

farecasting noun
farecasting noun
February 08, 2016
predicting the optimum date to buy a plane ticket, especially on a website or using an app A handful of new and updated websites and apps are trying to perfect the art of what’s known as farecasting – predicting the best date to buy a ticket.

Read More