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[hap-lis] /ˈhæp lɪs/
unlucky; luckless; unfortunate.
Origin of hapless
1560-70; hap1 + -less
Related forms
haplessly, adverb
haplessness, noun
Can be confused
hapless, haply, happily.
miserable, woebegone, wretched, forlorn; pathetic, pitiable. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for hapless
  • The hapless lovers in this first novel are kept constantly off-balance before being consigned to oblivion.
  • The hapless creature presumably drowns in his own tears, a finale that kids may find unsettling.
  • The hapless bureaucrat was forced to eat his own words.
  • From that time forward, her progress through life had been hapless.
  • And he has unleashed a new militia on his hapless fellow countrymen.
  • My days are hapless and sad.
  • We are still hapless idealists, from the very founding of our nation.
  • It may well be the end of the road for his hapless campaign for president.
  • And it's always easy in retrospect to make the winning campaign out to be geniuses, the losers hapless bumblers.
  • Some seek only money, preying on the hapless and uninformed.
British Dictionary definitions for hapless


unfortunate; wretched
Derived Forms
haplessly, adverb
haplessness, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for hapless

"unfortunate," c.1400, from hap (n.) in the sense "good luck" + -less. Related: Haplessly; haplessness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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