Pe happe; Cl pl. happeʒ; Pat happe, pl. happes; WA happe, pl. happis

'happiness, good fortune'

(Modern English hap)


Always derived from ON, cp. OIcel happ ‘good luck, chance’.  The only cognate formations on what appears to be the same Gmc root are in OE, viz. the adjectives gehæp and gehæplic ‘fit, convenient, opportune’ and derivatives. There is no clear evidence of a noun in OE, and in its absence it must be assumed that hæplic represents a deadjectival rather than a denominal formation on -lic; it is conceivable that a n. *hæp was later back-derived from hæplic, but the spelling of the ME n. as <hap> (rather than <hep>) in the AB language tells against a late OE n. *hæp, Merc. *hep, and in favour of a loan from ON adopted with late OE /ɑ/ (on the AB phonology see esp. Dance 2003: 112–17).

PGmc Ancestor


Proposed ON Etymon (OIcel representative)

happ ‘good luck, chance’
(ONP happ (sb.))

Other Scandinavian Reflexes

Far happ, Icel happ, Norw happ, Sw dial happ

OE Cognate

cp. gehæp and gehæplic (adj.) ‘fit, convenient, opportune'

Phonological and morphological markers

Summary category



Common and widespread from early ME.

Occurrences in the Gersum Corpus

Gaw 48; Pe 16, 713, 1195; Cl 24; Pat 11, 29, 212; WA 3272, 4346, 4937


MED hap (n.) , OED3 hap (n.1) , HTOED , Dance hap, Bj. 212–13, de Vries happ, Mag. happ, Orel *xappan, Kroonen *happ/bōn- (2)