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Take Our Word For It NOE No. 19  Melanie Crowley
 Jan 23, 2005 21:56 PST 

Take Our Word For It NOE No. 19

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We THINK this is NOE 19!

**This Week's NOE**

Dennis McKeever wrote to ask us about "happen". This verb is formed
from the noun "hap" + "-en", a suffix that forms a verb from a noun or
adjective (another example is "deepen" from "deep"). "Hap" comes frim
Old Norse "happ" (via Middle English), and it means "chance, good luck".
It was often used with "by", as in "by hap" to mean "by chance".
Beyond the Old Norse connection we do not know very much about its
derivation. The same root turns up in Old English: gehaep "fit", and
haeplic "equal". So if you say that something "happened", you are
saying etymologically that it occurred by chance. "Happen" has lost the
positive meaning of "good luck" and is now neutral - good and bad events
can "happen".

Interestingly, "happen" dates from 1375 in the written record, where it
was "hapnis" (happens).

**Laughing Stock**

We need more funny stuff! And Amazon.com gift certificates will go out
shortly to last week's winner AND to the last winner, from over a year
ago, who has waited patiently for his reward!

**Next Issue**

We plan to have a new issue of TOWFI next week. We also hope to have,
in next week's e-mail newsletter, a review of a new book from Michael
Sheehan: "Words to the Wise".

**Your Letters**

We have received many letters since our latest issue was published.
Please be patient with us as it will take some time to respond to all
that require responses. If you have sent an etymological query, you
will not, of course, receive a personal e-mail response from us.
However, if your query is used in the page, we will try to alert you via

**Thank You**

Thanks to all who wrote to check on us during our long absence, those
who continued sending queries and the occasional potential Laughing
Stock item, and to all who have welcomed us back!

Until next time,
Take Our Word For It!
Melanie and Mike

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