Definition of happen verb from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary

      

    happen

     verb
    verb
    BrE BrE//ˈhæpən//
     
    ; NAmE NAmE//ˈhæpən//
     
    Verb Forms present simple I / you / we / they happen
    BrE BrE//ˈhæpən//
     
    ; NAmE NAmE//ˈhæpən//
     
    he / she / it happens
    BrE BrE//ˈhæpənz//
     
    ; NAmE NAmE//ˈhæpənz//
     
    past simple happened
    BrE BrE//ˈhæpənd//
     
    ; NAmE NAmE//ˈhæpənd//
     
    past participle happened
    BrE BrE//ˈhæpənd//
     
    ; NAmE NAmE//ˈhæpənd//
     
    -ing form happening
    BrE BrE//ˈhæpənɪŋ//
     
    ; NAmE NAmE//ˈhæpənɪŋ//
     
     
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  1. 1  [intransitive] to take place, especially without being planned You'll never guess what's happened! Accidents like this happen all the time. Let's see what happens next week. I'll be there whatever happens. Is this really happening or is it a dream? I don't know how this happened.
  2. 2  [intransitive] to take place as the result of something She pressed the button but nothing happened. What happens if nobody comes to the party? Just plug it in and see what happens.
  3. 3linking verb to do or be something by chance happen to be/do something She happened to be out when we called. You don't happen to know his name, do you? This happens to be my favourite restaurant. The door happened to be unlocked. it happens that… It happened that she was out when we called.
  4. 4[transitive] happen to be/do something used to tell somebody something, especially when you are disagreeing with them or annoyed by what they have said That happens to be my mother you're talking about! More Like This Verbs usually followed by infinitives afford, agree, appear, arrange, attempt, beg, choose, consent, decide, expect, fail, happen, hesitate, hope, intend, learn, manage, mean, neglect, offer, prepare, pretend, promise, refuse, swear, try, want, wishSee worksheet.
  5. Word Origin late Middle English (superseding the verb hap): from the noun hap ‘chance’ + -en.Extra examples Don’t just sit back and let it happen. I don’t remember learning to swim, it just happened. Mistakes are bound to happen sometimes. She couldn’t quite believe that all this was actually happening to her. She didn’t know what was happening to her. Sometimes fun activities just happen spontaneously; at other times they take careful planning. They could only wait and see what was going to happen. What tends to happen is that students spend the first week of the course in a blind panic, but settle down by the second or third week. You have to make things happen if you want them to happen. Change doesn’t happen overnight. I don’t know how this happened. I’ll be there whatever happens. Just plug it in and see what happens. Let’s see what happens next week. She couldn’t believe that all this was actually happening. You’ll never guess what’s happened!Idioms
    an accident/a disaster waiting to happen
     
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    a thing or person that is very likely to cause danger or a problem in the future because of the condition it is in or the way they behave
    people say accidents will happen to tell somebody who has had an accident, for example breaking something, that it does not matter and they should not worry
    anything can/might happen
     
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    used to say that it is not possible to know what the result of something will be
    used when you say something that is surprising, or something connected with what somebody else has just said I agree with you, as it happens. As it happens, I have a spare set of keys in my office.
    in the event of something, in the event that something happens
     
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     if something happens In the event of an accident, call this number. Sheila will inherit everything in the event of his death.
    it (just) so happens that…
     
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    by chance It just so happened they'd been invited too.
    used to express the idea that we must accept that bad things often happen without reason used to tell somebody not to worry about something they have done ‘Sorry—I've spilt some wine.’ ‘Never mind. These things happen.’
    Phrasal Verbshappen on somethinghappen to somebody
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: happen