Unfortunate, luckless, unlucky. It comes from an old word, hap, which originally meant luck or chance and then later came to mean good luck. We don't use hapless in modern English, but we do use other words that come from the same root. For example, happen was originally happenen and it meant "occur by hap." If you're happy, you possess hap, good fortune. Haphazard, meaning irregular or disordered, comes from combining hap with hazard, which was a game played with dice.
(Will be published in the February 2010 issue of Denver's Community News.)
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