Happenstance – Usage & Meaning

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

Let’s explore some insight into the meaning of the strange word “happenstance.” Is it “happenchance” or “happenstance”? Where did this word come from, and how would you use it in a sentence? Words like this don’t make English any easier to learn, but hopefully, my simple guide can break it down for you.

What Does Happenstance Mean?

Happenstance Usage Meaning

People say happenstance when an event or circumstance occurs by chance or coincidence. It’s an unpredictable occurrence that can have a significant impact on your life or a situation. It’s a mash-up word that doesn’t look real at first but makes sense once you learn the meaning, like guesstimate and ginormous. We call that portmanteau.

Take this idea, for example. You meet a long-lost friend by chance while walking down the street in a town where neither of you even lives. That’s a happenstance.

One example from my own life is how I got into Interior Design after finishing college. My then-boyfriend was at a hockey game and found himself sitting next to the director at my dream design firm. They got to talking and got me an interview. I got the job, but it was all by happenstance.

Is It Happenchance or Happenstance?

Believe it or not, the correct term you’re supposed to use is “happenstance,” not “happenchance.” That is unless you live in the UK.

Happenchance sounds like a combination of the words “happen” and “chance,” and that’s because it basically is. In British English, both terms are accepted, but they use happenchance more over there.

Origin and Etymology of Happenstance

The word “happenstance” has roots back to the 15th century and derives from a combination of the words “happening” and “circumstance.”

What’s Another Word for Happenstance?

  • Coincidence
  • Serendipity
  • Accident
  • Chance event
  • Fortuity
  • Happenchance
  • Chance
  • Fate
  • Fortune
  • Fluke

How Do You Use Happenstance in a Sentence?

Happenstance Usage Meaning 1

Here are a few examples showing how to use the term “happenstance” in a sentence.

  • It was only by a bit of happenstance that I ran into my old college professor at the grocery store. We talked, and before we knew it, an hour had passed.
  • I used to be an Interior Designer, and it was only by a matter of happenstance that I veered off into the world of writing and decided to become an author.
  • We’ve been married for over fifteen years, so our fluke meeting was a happy happenstance that changed our lives.
  • I found what’s now my favorite book by happenstance one day.
  • My sister-in-law stumbled upon the perfect wedding dress by glorious happenstance while browsing the clearance section at a department store.
  • The recent discovery of the lost and ancient manuscript was a pure happenstance that stunned the literary world. Now it’s on display in the Smithsonian, and I can’t wait to see it.
  • The first dinosaur fossil was discovered by a series of happenstances when a man tripped and fell, uncovering a perfectly preserved spine.

Don’t Ignore Happenstances!

I know it sounds like a silly word, but I assure you it’s real and widely used all over the world. It’s just one of those funny mash-up words that makes sense. Just remember to use “happenstance” instead of “happenchance” unless you’re writing or speaking to a UK audience, and you’ll be good to go!