verb (used without object)
to take place; come to pass; occur: Something interesting is always happening in New York.
to come to pass by chance; occur without apparent reason or design: Don't ask me what caused it—it just happened, that's all.
to have the fortune or lot (to do or be as specified); chance: I happened to see him on the street.
to befall, as to a person or thing: Something dreadful has happened to me.
to meet or discover by chance (usually followed by on or upon ): to happen on a clue to a mystery.
to be, come, go, etc., casually or by chance: My friend happened along.
Slang. to be very exciting or interesting: That party was happening!

1300–50; Middle English hap(pe)nen. See hap1, -en1

1. betide. Happen, chance, occur refer to the taking place of an event. Happen which originally denoted the taking place by hap or chance, is now the most general word for coming to pass: Something has happened. Chance suggests the accidental nature of an event: It chanced to rain that day. Occur is often interchangeable with happen but is more formal, and is usually more specific as to time and event: His death occurred the following year.
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
happen (ˈhæpən)
vb (foll by to)
1.  (intr) (of an event in time) to come about or take place; occur
2.  (of some unforeseen circumstance or event, esp death), to fall to the lot (of); be a source of good or bad fortune (to): if anything happens to me, it'll be your fault
3.  (tr) to chance (to be or do something): I happen to know him
4.  (tr; takes a clause as object) to be the case, esp if by chance, that: it happens that I know him
adv, —sentence substitute
5.  dialect (Northern English)
 a.  another word for perhaps
 b.  (as sentence modifier): happen I'll see thee tomorrow

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

c.1300, happenen "to come to pass, occur," originally "occur by hap" (see hap); replaced O.E. gelimpan, gesceon, and M.E. befall. First record of happenstance is 1897, formed from happening + circumstance. Happening in the sense of "spontaneous event or display" is from 1959.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
Healthy living doesn't happen at the doctor's office.
It will happen so fast that it will be impossible to keep up with its repair.
How you invest your money depends on what you think is going to happen to the
  global economy.
We were trying to make it work, every day, but it would not happen for us.
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