Universal Mentors Association

Word of the Day: happenstance


The word happenstance has appeared in 47 articles on NYTimes.com in the past year, including on June 19 in the Opinion essay “Cormac McCarthy Had a Remarkable Literary Career. It Could Never Happen Now” by Dan Sinykin:

Then something remarkable happened. In 1992, after a career spent eking out a living, Mr. McCarthy had a hit. “All the Pretty Horses,” which won the National Book Award and was adapted by Hollywood, set him squarely on a path to literary stardom and an outsize reputation as one of the greatest novelists of his time.

This improbable trajectory — writer toils for decades in obscurity before finding international renown — is the stuff of legend. But it did not occur by accident or happenstance. Mr. McCarthy’s career was made possible by a tectonic shift that was happening in the publishing industry as it moved from the boutique model of the early 20th century to an era of conglomeration. If the first part of his career was illustrative of publishing’s old model, the second half was made possible by a new approach. With his famed reclusiveness and idiosyncratic prose style, Mr. McCarthy might seem like an obdurate anachronism. But his career arc reveals that he was serendipitously of his time.

Can you correctly use the word happenstance in a sentence?

Based on the definition and example provided, write a sentence using today’s Word of the Day and share it as a comment on this article. It is most important that your sentence makes sense and demonstrates that you understand the word’s definition, but we also encourage you to be creative and have fun.

Then, read some of the other sentences students have submitted and use the “Recommend” button to vote for two original sentences that stand out to you.

If you want a better idea of how happenstance can be used in a sentence, read these usage examples on Vocabulary.com.

Students ages 13 and older in the United States and the United Kingdom, and 16 and older elsewhere, can comment. All comments are moderated by the Learning Network staff.

The Word of the Day is provided by Vocabulary.com. Learn more and see usage examples across a range of subjects in the Vocabulary.com Dictionary. See every Word of the Day in this column.


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