I need a word for things not happening the way someone would want it to. For example, if you're at the ice cream parlor buying some icecream but they don't have vanilla, your favorite flavor, you would have to buy chocolate. Generic example aside, is there even a word for life not going your way? (One-two word answer, not a phrase)

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    That would be such a drag. – John Clifford Mar 22 '16 at 15:29
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    Depending on the context, "sh*t happens" might do. – Hugh Meyers Mar 22 '16 at 15:56
  • Maybe bummer! – Yay Mar 22 '16 at 17:45
  • See english.stackexchange.com/q/80086/131620 which discusses antoymns for serendipity which may help. Unfortunately no neat answer at that page. – k1eran Mar 22 '16 at 19:42
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    Just my luck - my answer is one word too long. – Phil Sweet Jun 8 at 21:54

You can probably call them mishaps:

  • an unpredictable outcome that is unfortunate.

The Free Dictionary


If you are okay with being slightly crude, try:

Some days you're the dog, other days you're the hydrant.

This idiom follows from the fact that dogs very stereotypically urinate upon fire hydrants while out for a walk, supposedly as a way of marking territory. When you are the dog, you are the one doing the marking, you are in charge, on top of the world. When you are the hydrant, well, you are the one getting marked.

  • Although this seems to convey the meaning, I think OP wants very short phrases. – NVZ Mar 22 '16 at 18:44

a haphazard life TFD

characterized by lack of order or planning; irregular; chance; random.


You imply that getting the chocolate ice cream isn't actually a disaster, despite its not being your first choice.

So maybe you'll accept your second choice. A pithier way of saying this is

Plan B

which, according to dictionary.com, is

a strategy or plan to be implemented if the original one proves impracticable or unsuccessful.

The use of "Plan B"(R) as a brand of "morning-after" contraceptive rather underscores its suitability for the meaning you wanted.

Of course, there's always the possibility that you'll have to come up with a Plan C, D, etc......


“Unlucky.” As in, “I am an unlucky person.”

“Misfortune.” As in, “I have had a lot of misfortune in my life.”

“Jinxed.” As in, “Every time I think something will finally go my way, it doesn’t. I think I am jinxed.”

“Cursed.” Same use as jinxed.

See if one of those work for you.


I think that it would be a fail. This is a word for things failing to go your way. Your scenario could be, "I went to get some ice cream, but they failed to have my favorite flavor, vanilla." Just a suggestion! :)

  • Welcome to EL&U. Please link to and quote from a resource that supports your answer. – Rupert Morrish May 2 '18 at 20:43

SNAFU which stands for: "Situation Normal All Fk'd Up" SNAFU was a flag we used to fly on our ship during the Vietnam War -- our unofficial motto was: The schedule has been changed, because we were always giving up scheduled periods of R & R in exchange for Search and Rescue missions.

  • BTW, for most in the military, R & R stands for Rest & Relaxation, but for us it normally stood for Repair & Replenishment, although we also enjoyed our Liberty Calls in numerous ports as well. – ROGER REINER Jun 10 at 0:06

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