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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
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • "The story of the hapless maiden Kell, and of our hero's first essays in love, I did admire and prize," said the poet.

  • He sprang forward at once towards the hapless boy, dragging the coat with him.

    The Fiery Totem Argyll Saxby
  • Even immediately after an enormous meal of some hapless creature, a tiger is fired with fresh lust at sight of new prey.

    Autobiography of a YOGI Paramhansa Yogananda
  • Yet that was what the gods eventually decreed for this hapless twain.

    The Genius Margaret Horton Potter
  • In the sweetness of this reconciled "lovers' quarrel," she had almost forgotten its hapless cause.

    Olive Dinah Maria Craik, (AKA Dinah Maria Mulock)
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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