Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search
See also: Happy



From Middle English happy (fortunate, happy), perhaps an alteration of Middle English happyn, happen (fortunate, happy), possibly related to or from Old Norse heppinn (fortunate, happy); and potentially assimilated to be equivalent to hap (chance, luck, fortune) +‎ -y. Compare also Icelandic heppinn (lucky), Scots happin (fortunate, blessed). See further at hap.



happy (comparative happier or more happy, superlative happiest or most happy)

  1. Having a feeling arising from a consciousness of well-being or of enjoyment; enjoying good of any kind, such as comfort, peace, or tranquillity; blissful, contented, joyous.
    Music makes me feel happy.
    • 1609, Richard Crakanthorpe, “2. Chron[icles] Chap. 9.”, in A Sermon at the Solemnizing of the Happie Inauguration of our Most Gracious and Religious Soueraigne King Iames. Wherein is Manifestly Proued, that the Soueraignty of Kings is Immediatly from God, and Second to No Authority on Earth whatsoeuer. Preached at Paules Crosse, the 24. of March last. 1608, London: Printed by W[illiam] Iaggard for Tho[mas] Adams, dwelling in Paules Church-yard, at the signe of the blew Bell, OCLC 22255107:
      I may truely heere ſay vnto you, your ſelues alſo being witneſſe, and ſay it to the immortell praiſe of Gods name, to the honour of our Soueraigne, and to the ioy and comfort of all his people, that in this happineſſe, this reknowned Kingdome, among all, and aboue all Nations of the earth is bleſſed this day. Happie O King are thy people, and happie are thy Subiects or Seruants.
    • 1611, The Holy Bible, [] (King James Version), London: [] Robert Barker, [], OCLC 964384981, Psalms 144:15:
      Happy is that people that is in such a case: yea, happy is that people, whose God is the Lord.
    • 1731, Thomas Bayes, Divine Benevolence: or, An Attempt to Prove that the Principal End of the Divine Providence and Government is the Happiness of His Creatures: Being an Answer to a Pamphlet, Entitled, Divine Rectitude; or, An Inquiry Concerning the Moral Perfections of the Deity. With a Refutation of the Notions therein Advanced Concerning Beauty and Order, the Reason of Punishment, and the Necessity of a State of Trial antecedent to Perfect Happiness, London: Printed for John Noon, at the White-Hart in Cheapside, near Mercers-Chapel, OCLC 642498368; quoted in Andrew I. Dale, Most Honourable Remembrance: The Life and Work of Thomas Bayes (Studies and Sources in the History of Mathematics and Physical Sciences), New York, N.Y.: Springer, 2003, ISBN 978-0-387-00499-0, page 138:
      [] For the most happy universe is not one that consists of the greatest possible number of the most happy beings only; but one that consists of that, and the greatest possible number of beings next inferior to the first rank, and so downward, till we come to those that approach the nearest to insensible matter.
    • 1733, [Alexander Pope], An Essay on Man. [], epistle II, London: Printed for J[ohn] Wilford, [], OCLC 960856019, page 17:
      Whate'er the Paſſion, Knowledge, Fame, or Pelf, / Not one will change his Neighbour with himſelf. / The Learn'd are happy, Nature to explore; / The Fool is happy, that he knows no more; / The Rich are happy in the plenty given; / The Poor contents him with the Care of Heaven.
    • 1807, anonymous [formerly incorrectly attributed to Andronicus of Rhodes]; William Bridgman, transl., “That the Happy Man has Need of Worthy Friends”, in The Paraphrase of an Anonymous Greek Writer, (hitherto Published Under the Name of Andronicus Rhodius) on the Nicomachean Ethics of Aristotle. Translated from the Greek, by William Bridgman, F.L.S., London: Printed by C[harles] Whittingham, 103, Goswell Street; and sold by T[homas] Payne, Pall-Mall; J. White Fleet-Street; Cuthell and Martin, Middle-Row, Holborn; and J. and A. Arch, Cornhill, OCLC 3057125, book IX, page 415:
      [S]ince the happy are sufficient to themselves they have no need of friends; and hence it is said, "When Fortune's goods abound, what boots a friend?" Thus then it appears that the happy do not require friends.
    • 1829, Charles Knowlton, “On the Passions”, in Elements of Modern Materialism: Inculcating the Idea of a Future State, in which All Will be More Happy, under whatever Circumstances They May be Placed than if They Experienced No Misery in this Life, Adams, Mass.: Printed for the author, by A. Oakey, OCLC 367405965, page 324:
      While they are in this state striving perhaps to render their fellow beings more happy, of whatever sect or denomination they may be, they meet with one or more persons who undertake to convert their mere cold belief in religious doctrines—which is at best little better than mere morality—into real effective religion, a religion that will move the tongue.
    • 1901, Edith Goodyear Alger, “Roy's Birthday”, in A Primer of Work and Play, Boston, Mass.: D. C. Heath and Company, OCLC 2885602, page 49:
      A happy birthday to you, / A happy birthday to you, / A happy birthday, dear Roy, / A happy birthday to you.
      Note: This is the first occurrence in print of the lyrics of the song “Happy Birthday to You”.
    • 1990, Peter Woods, “Laughing at School”, in The Happiest Days?: How Pupils Cope With Schools, Basingstoke, Hants: The Falmer Press, Taylor & Francis, →ISBN, page 182:
      In different ways, therefore, for many pupils, whether they benefit greatly from the system, or just 'get by', or are 'bored stiff' by the lessons, or for the most part are completely rebellious, schooldays do often appear to be 'the happiest days'.
    • 2013 November 21, Pharrell Williams (lyrics and music), “Happy”, in Girl, performed by Pharrell Williams:
      Because I'm happy / Clap along if you know what happiness is to you / Because I'm happy / Clap along if you feel like that's what you wanna do
    • 2014, Erica Brown, “Pondering the Afterlife”, in Happier Endings: A Meditation on Life and Death, New York, N.Y.: Simon & Schuster, →ISBN, page 49:
      People who believe that a better life awaits us after this one would appear to have secured a happier ending, even before they come close to the end. There is little to be afraid of if you're armed with the promise of a wonderful future. Death is only a portal to greater joy.
  2. Experiencing the effect of favourable fortune; favored by fortune or luck; fortunate, lucky, propitious.
    (Can we add an example for this sense?)
  3. Content, willing, satisfied (with or to do something); having no objection (to something).
    Are you happy to pay me back by the end of the week?
    Yes, I am happy with the decision.
    • 1844, “Patience and Perseverance”, in J[oseph] Barker, editor, The Christian, volume I, number XIV, London: Chapman, 121, Newgate Street; Mardon, 7, Farringdon Street; Newcastle-on-Tyne: J[oseph] Barker, 3, Hood Street, OCLC 8266193, page 314:
      A Christian may be happier in low circumstances, than in high ones. He may be happier without rich friends, than with them. He may be happier in loneliness, than in a crowd of flatterers. He may be happier under reproach, than when riding on the spring-tide of popularity. He may be happier with hard work, than in a life of ease. He may be happier with coarse and scanty food, than with tables of luxury. He may be happier in sickness and persecution, than in health and quietness.
    • 2007, I[ver] David Reingold, “Substitution Reactions”, in Organic Chemistry, or, “The Happy Carbon”: An Introduction Emphasizing Biological Connections, Delhi: Indo American Books, →ISBN, page 308:
      A strong acid is also a substance whose conjugate base (obviously a weak base) is quite happy with the excess electrons it got from that bond.
    • 2016, Imad A. Moosa, “The Post-crisis Regulatory Landscape: An Overview”, in Contemporary Issues in the Post-crisis Regulatory Landscape, Singapore: World Scientific, →ISBN, page 8:
      This wave of "financial innovation" led to rapid growth in subprime lending, which was enhanced on the demand side by the housing boom and general asset price bubble. While the party lasted everyone was happy. Mortgage lenders were happy to lend and keep subprime loans off their books via securitization. Issuers of ABSs were happy to get their commissions. Borrowers were happy to get loans without scrutiny. Investors were happy to acquire assets that were "risk-free" and offered a return of hundreds of basis points over that offered by US Treasuries.
  4. (Of acts, speech, etc.) Appropriate, apt, felicitous.
    a happy coincidence
    • 1792, James Thomson, “Letter XXXI. From the Hon. Miss Wilton to Mr. Benfield.”, in The Denial; or, The Happy Retreat. A Novel. [...] In Two Volumes, volume I, 2nd corr. edition, London: Printed for J. Sewell, No. 32, Cornhill, OCLC 642654779, page 185:
      The common privilege of your ſex affords you the happy opportunity of alleviating your ſorrows by communicating your ſentiments and feelings to some faithful friend; but to women, even this relief is rigidly denied, and, bound by the harſh reſtraints which the delicacy and reſerve of female natures have impoſed, I muſt bear the ſecret of my ſorrows with painful ſilence.
    • 1804, [James Stephen], The Opportunity; or, Reasons for an Immediate Alliance with St. Domingo, London: Printed by C[harles] Whittingham, Dean Street, Fetter Lane; for J[ohn] Hatchard, Piccadilly, OCLC 65238401, page 101:
      You would, even by this most favourable result, be at best only replaced in the situation, and restored to the happy opportunity which you at present possess: []
    • 1817 December, [Jane Austen], chapter XIV, in Northanger Abbey; published in Northanger Abbey: And Persuasion. [], volume I, London: John Murray, [], 1818, OCLC 318384910, page 256:
      "Historians, you think," said Miss Tilney, "are not happy in their flights of fancy. They display imagination without raising interest.  []"
    • 1990, Jean Baudrillard; Chris Turner, transl., Cool Memories, London; New York, N.Y.: Verso Books, →ISBN, page 138:
      When happy events coincide, that is a happy coincidence. But the coincidence of baneful events is a happy coincidence too.
    • 1991, Stephen Fry, The Liar, p. 58:
      ‘I had the happy notion of adding an egg,’ Williams shouted back. ‘It poaches in the soup. Not unlike an Italian stracciatella. Singularly toothsome...’
  5. (in combination) Favoring or inclined to use.
    • 2002, Dan Benson, “Stupid Mistake #9: Following Fads vs. Staying the Course”, in 12 Stupid Mistakes People Make with Their Money, Nashville, Tenn.: Thomas Nelson, →ISBN, page 128:
      We live in a sue-happy society. If Santa slides off your roof and busts his tailbone, he could sue you, and probably will.
    • 2012 August 21, Jason Heller, “The Darkness: Hot Cakes [music review]”, in The A.V. Club[1], archived from the original on 24 August 2012:
      “Baby, I was a loser / Several years on the dole / An Englishman with a very high voice / Doing rock ’n’ roll,” sings falsetto-happy frontman Justin Hawkins at the start of “Every Inch Of You,” Hot Cakes’ opener.
  6. (rare, of people, often followed by "at" or "in") Dexterous, ready, skilful.
  7. Implying 'May you have a happy ~' or similar; used in phrases to wish someone happiness or good fortune at the time of a festival, celebration, or other event or activity.
    Happy birthday!, Happy Fourth of July!, Happy anniversary!, Happy job-hunting!

Usage notes[edit]

  • (contented, joyous): Said of people, hours, times, thoughts, etc.
  • (fortunate, lucky): Said of efforts, expedients, omens, ventures, etc.

Alternative forms[edit]



Derived terms[edit]

Terms derived from happy (adjective)


  • German: happy
  • Welsh: hapus (calque)
  • Japanese: ハッピー


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.


happy (plural happies)

  1. (informal, rare) A happy event, thing, person, etc.
    • 1994, Lauri Coyle; Gail Hershatter; Emily Honig, “‘Why Did I Put Up With It All These Years’: The Farah Strike”, in Maxine Schwartz Seller, editor, Immigrant Women (SUNY Series in Ethnicity and Race in American Life), 2nd rev. edition, Albany, N.Y.: State University of New York Press, →ISBN, page 290:
      The strike split the Chicano community. Many workers at Farah crossed picket lines and continued to keep the plant operating. They were known as the "happies" because they wore buttons which featured a smiling face and the slogan, "I'm happy at Farah. …"


happy (third-person singular simple present happies, present participle happying, simple past and past participle happied)

  1. (intransitive, informal) Often followed by up: to become happy; to brighten up, to cheer up.
    • 2001, John L. Bullion, “Jokes”, in In the Boat with LBJ, Plano, Tex.: Republic of Texas Press, →ISBN, page 294:
      Whenever I started drinking again after abstaining for any period of time, it usually was an effort to relieve stress and to "happy up."
    • 2016 July 18, Wayne Kaatz, chapter 11, in Stuck on Earth, Bloomington, Ind.: Archway Publishing, →ISBN:
      [H]e smiled [] then asked my name. He checked it against his clipboard then sadly shook his head as if he'd been rejected himself. Told him I was looking for employment and he happied up again, able to help by directing me to apply at the front office, that the doors were on the Gower Street side.
  2. (transitive, informal) Often followed by up: to make happy; to brighten, to cheer, to enliven.
    • 2007, Mireille Juchau, “Sanctuary”, in Burning In, Artarmon, N.S.W.: Giramondo Publishing for the Writing & Society Research Group, University of Western Sydney, →ISBN, page 201:
      People really didn't want their Party Motivators in their photos, anonymous dancers, happying up the place. It spooked them.
    • 2015 October 26, Nickolas Martin, Ego Therapy: A Method for Healing Your Whole Self, Bloomington, Ind.: Balboa Press, Hay House, →ISBN:
      [] [William] Glasser would probably say that happy people are "happying" themselves by choosing behaviors that help them to feel happy (working at their relationships, engaging in productive work activities, participating in desired recreational activities, etc.).


Further reading[edit]



Borrowed from English happy.



happy (strong nominative masculine singular happyer, comparative happyer, superlative am happysten)

  1. (colloquial, chiefly predicative) glad; satisfied; momentarily happy

Usage notes[edit]

  • The German word is used as a synonym of froh (glad, momentarily happy) rather than glücklich (happy, both momentarily and generally in life).
  • On the rare occasion that this adjective is used attributively, the positive form happy typically remains undeclined, whereas the comparation forms are declined in the normal fashion.