happen, transpire, occur

happen, transpire, occur
These words are frequently used interchangeably, but not by careful users of language. Happen means "to take place," "to come to pass": "A fatal accident just happened at that intersection." Happen, which originally indicated the taking place of something by hap or chance, should be used for events that are spontaneous or accidental. Occur has much the same meaning as happen but is more specific as to time or event: "His election occurred the month before." That which is scheduled (prearranged) may be said to take place; that which occurs or happens is more likely to be unplanned. Transpire is a formal word that means "to escape from secrecy" and should not be used as a synonym for happen, occur, or take place. Its literal meaning is "to be emitted as a vapor," "to be breathed out." From this meaning, transpire has come to suggest leaking out and becoming known. One can ask "Has anything transpired during my absence?" but only if he means "Has any secret leaked out?" or "Has anything come to light that was previously hidden or unknown?" Since the correct use of transpire is limited, why not always say happen, occur, take place, come to pass, befall, or present itself?

Dictionary of problem words and expressions. . 1975.

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  • transpire — See happen. See happen, transpire, occur …   Dictionary of problem words and expressions

  • occur — See happen. See happen, transpire, occur …   Dictionary of problem words and expressions

  • happen — See happen, transpire, occur …   Dictionary of problem words and expressions

  • happen — vb Happen, chance, occur, befall, betide, transpire are comparable when they mean to come to pass or to come about. Happen is the ordinary and general term and may imply either obvious causation or seeming accident, either design or an absence of …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • happen — [hap′ən] vi. [ME happenen: see HAP1 & EN] 1. to take place; occur; befall 2. to be or occur by chance or without plan [it happened to rain] 3. to have the luck or occasion; chance [I happened to see it] …   English World dictionary

  • transpire — The origin of the word is in the Latin verb spirare ‘to breathe’, and in its primary physical sense meant ‘to give off vapour’ or ‘to perspire’ (a meaning still used in the physical sciences). In the 18c it developed two abstract meanings, both… …   Modern English usage

  • happen — I (New American Roget s College Thesaurus) v. befall, eventuate, occur. See chance, occurrence. II (Roget s IV) v. 1. [To be by chance] Syn. come up, come about, turn up, crop up, chance, stumble upon, light upon, occur unexpectedly, come face to …   English dictionary for students

  • happen — verb 1) remember what happened last time he was here Syn: occur, take place, come about; ensue, result, transpire, materialize, arise, crop up, come up, present itself, supervene; informal go down; formal eventuate; literary come to pass, betide… …   Thesaurus of popular words

  • transpire — verb 1) it transpired that her family had moved away Syn: become known, emerge, come to light, be revealed, turn out, come out, be discovered, prove to be the case, unfold 2) I m going to find out exactly what transpired Syn: happen …   Thesaurus of popular words

  • occur — I (come to mind) verb be uppermost in the mind, become aware, become visible, come into view, conjure up, crop up, cross ones mind, emerge, enter the mind, enter the picture, manifest itself, pass in the mind, present itself, present itself to… …   Law dictionary

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