What word does your mother always say?


[hap-uh-ning] /ˈhæp ə nɪŋ/
something that happens; occurrence; event.
an unconventional dramatic or artistically orchestrated performance, often a series of discontinuous events involving audience participation.
any event considered worthwhile, unusual, or interesting.
Origin of happening
1545-55; 1965-70 for def 2; happen + -ing1
1. incident, episode, instance, affair, case.


[hap-uh n] /ˈhæp ən/
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. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
Cite This Source
Examples from the web for happening
  • Think happening restaurants, a new contemporary art museum, and an architecturally forward-thinking bridge.
  • What had seemed a melancholy happening, now seemed a tiresome anticlimax.
  • It is the similarity between the performed action and the expected happening.
  • Sometimes she was angry about some happening at the banker's house and scolded away for hours.
  • He had his own object-he simply wanted to find out at once what was happening here.
  • Something was happening to him entirely new, sudden and unknown.
  • His timing was unfortunate, for something started happening around then which made nonsense of his ideas.
  • They can fly unaided to the target area and monitor much of what is happening on the ground without help from their controllers.
  • In some areas where change might be expected, however, nothing much seems to be happening.
  • What economists mean by real inflation is, of course, a wage-price spiral and that is not happening.
British Dictionary definitions for happening


/ˈhæpənɪŋ; ˈhæpnɪŋ/
an occurrence; event
an improvised or spontaneous display or performance consisting of bizarre and haphazard events
(informal) fashionable and up-to-the-minute


(intransitive) (of an event in time) to come about or take place; occur
(intransitive) foll by to. (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
(transitive) to chance (to be or do something): I happen to know him
(transitive; takes a clause as object) to be the case, esp if by chance, that: it happens that I know him
adverb, sentence substitute
(Northern English, dialect)
  1. another word for perhaps
  2. (as sentence modifier): happen I'll see thee tomorrow
Word Origin
C14: see hap1, -en1
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
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for happening

mid-15c., "chance, luck," from present participle of happen; meaning "occurrence" is 1550s. Sense of "spontaneous event or display" is from 1959 in the argot of artists. Happenings "events" was noted by Fowler as a vogue word from c.1905.



c.1300, "to come to pass, occur," originally "occur by hap, to have the (good or bad) fortune (to do, be, etc.);" see hap (n.). Replaced Old English gelimpan, gesceon, and Middle English befall. In Middle English fel it hap meant "it happened." Related: Happened; happening.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
Slang definitions & phrases for happening


  1. Up-to-date and desirable; chic; cool, hip, with it: That dress is definitely happening; you look great/ This music is happening
  2. Lively; vibrant: It's a way happening town

An event: the concert was a happening (1980s+ Students)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for happening

Most English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for happening

Scrabble Words With Friends

Quotes with happening

Nearby words for happening