English edit

Etymology edit

From Middle English unhappy; equivalent to un- +‎ happy.

Pronunciation edit

  • IPA(key): /ʌnˈhæpi/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -æpi

Adjective edit

unhappy (comparative unhappier or more unhappy, superlative unhappiest or most unhappy)

  1. Not happy; sad.
  2. Not satisfied; unsatisfied.
    An unhappy customer is unlikely to return to your shop.
  3. (chiefly dated) Not lucky; unlucky.
    The doomed lovers must have been born under an unhappy star.
    • 1891, Thomas Hardy, Tess of the d'Urbervilles, volume 1, London: James R. Osgood, McIlvaine and Co., page 56:
      The pointed shaft of the cart had entered the breast of the unhappy Prince like a sword, and from the wound his life's blood was spouting in a stream, and falling with a hiss into the road.
  4. (chiefly dated) Not suitable; unsuitable.

Synonyms edit

Antonyms edit

Derived terms edit

Translations edit

Noun edit

unhappy (plural unhappies)

  1. An individual who is not happy.
    • 1972, The New Yorker (volume 48, part 1, page 109)
      Leduc, as is true of many other unhappies, is largely a confessional writer: her subject is herself, and her gift is a driving, vivacious power that turns her incurable, inveterate unhappiness into a series of dramas []

Verb edit

unhappy (third-person singular simple present unhappies, present participle unhappying, simple past and past participle unhappied)

  1. To make or become unhappy; to sadden.
    • 1595 December 9 (first known performance), William Shakespeare, “The life and death of King Richard the Second”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act 3, scene 1]:
      A happy gentleman in blood and lineaments,
      By you unhappied and disfigured clean
    • 1625, Sir John Eliot, Letter to the duke of Buckingham:
      In the greate desire I have unto your grace's service, nothing has more unhappied me than the wante of opportunitie in which I might expresse the character of my harte that onlie takes of your impressions.
    • 1637, Samuel Page, The Broken Heart, page 29:
      They unhappied their estates by sinning against God, and of glorious Angels became unclean devils: there is not part of the work of Gods hands so eternally cast away, reserved in chains of darknesse for the judgement of the last day.
    • 1788, Alexander Falconbridge, The African Slave Trade:
      Nor do these unhappying beings, after they become the property of Europeans (from whom as a more civilized people, more humanity might naturally be expected), find their situation in the least amended.
    • 2011, Jeanne Comings Majdalany, “In Foreign Lands — A Teacher and A Learner”, in Anne Peet Carrington and Børre Ludvigsen, editor, Fill the bathtub!, page 65:
      Most unhappying! I had to get up, have a nice hot bath and then go out into the cold rain to Ted's for breakfast.

Middle English edit

Noun edit


  1. unhap
    • 1470–1483 (date produced), Thom̃s Malleorre [i.e., Thomas Malory], “[Launcelot and Guinevere]”, in Le Morte Darthur (British Library Additional Manuscript 59678), [England: s.n.], folio 449, recto, lines 27–29:
      So thys ſeaſon hit be felle in the moneth : of may a grete angur and vnhappy that ſtynted nat tylle þͤ floure of chyvalry of the worlde was deſtroyed and ſlayne
      So in this season, as in the month of May, it befell a great anger and unhap that stinted not till the flower of chivalry of all the world was destroyed and slain;