1520s, "occurring," present-participle adjective from happen (v.). Compare incident.
mid-15c., "chance, luck," verbal noun from happen (v.); meaning "an occurrence" is 1550s. Sense of "spontaneous event or display" is from 1959 in the argot of artists. Happenings "events" was noted by Fowler as a vogue word from c. 1905.
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