The OED entry for happen notes the following:

In Middle English fel it hap meant "it happened."

A search for the phrase reveals this OED entry and nothing else relevant. It is not clear how one would use this phrase in a conversational context. For example, could it be used in a sentence like the following?

Fel it hap that the man did dege.


It happened that the man died.

Or, was it used as an exclamation?

The man did dege! Fel it hap!

*All "Middle-English-y" example sentences here are of my own making, and I know nothing about Middle English.

How was this phrase used? Can you provide any notable examples from medieval works?

Thanks in advance!

  • I guess 'fel it hap' was a nonce nonce expression. Almost all the sources I checked give only one example (the one I've posted as an answer). I didn't find any other example. Sep 2, 2020 at 19:48

1 Answer 1


Your first example seems correct to me. Here's a quote from ME compendium:

Þan fel it hap þat þei founde ful sone a grete bor.
[Middle English Compendium]

Another example in poetry:

In þat faire forest feiþely for to telle;
Wiþ alle his menskful meyné,
þat moche was & nobul;
Þan fel it hap, þat þei founde ful sone a grete bor,
& huntyng wiþ hound & horn harde alle sewede;

Then fel it hap that thei founde ful sone a grete bor
[Ancient Metrical Tales - Google Books]

  • Why do you have the same example twice (#1 and #3)?
    – Laurel
    Sep 1, 2020 at 10:41
  • @Laurel, This is the only example I could find. And it's thrice not twice. :P Sep 1, 2020 at 11:29

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