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[uhn-hap-ee] /ʌnˈhæp i/
adjective, unhappier, unhappiest.
sad; miserable; wretched:
Why is she so unhappy?
unfortunate; unlucky:
an unhappy incident.
unfavorable; inauspicious:
an unhappy omen.
infelicitous; unsuitable:
an unhappy choice of words.
Archaic. causing trouble; reprehensible; troublesome.
Origin of unhappy
1250-1300; Middle English: causing misfortune, objectionable; see un-1, happy
Related forms
unhappily, adverb
unhappiness, noun
1. sorrowful, downcast, cheerless, distressed. 2. hapless. 3. unpropitious. 4. inappropriate, inapt. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for unhappily
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • But, unhappily, each alibi would have been almost equally compromising.

    Angling Sketches Andrew Lang
  • And this breach was unhappily widened by some of the common causes of dispute.

    Captain Cook W.H.G. Kingston
  • Gorsas has friends in Rennes; he will hide there,—unhappily will not lie hid.

    The French Revolution Thomas Carlyle
  • unhappily he was wholly ignorant of the history of the language.

  • unhappily it got aground, and all on board of it were captured.

    Across India Oliver Optic
  • unhappily there was no one at home to whom they could tell their plans.

  • This good old man whom you see here, is Erasmus; this other is Grotius; unhappily, they neither of them had any religion.

    The Visions of Quevedo Dom Francisco de Quevedo
  • unhappily, we cannot undo the past, though we would gladly give our lives to do it.'

British Dictionary definitions for unhappily


adjective -pier, -piest
not joyful; sad or depressed
unfortunate or wretched: an unhappy fellow
tactless or inappropriate: an unhappy remark
(archaic) unfavourable
Derived Forms
unhappily, adverb
unhappiness, 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 unhappily

early 14c., from un- (2) + happily (see happy). Cf. Old Norse unheppiliga.



c.1300, "causing misfortune or trouble (to oneself or others)," from un- (1) "not" + happy. Meaning "unfortunate, unlucky" is recorded from late 14c.; sense of "miserable, wretched" is recorded from late 14c. (originally via misfortune or mishap).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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