Don’t cry over spilled milk, it is just a minor mishap — a misfortune. If the surgeon operates on the wrong leg when you go in for knee surgery? Now, that’s a mishap to get upset about.

You might assume that hap is short for happening, but it is actually an Old Norse word for “luck.” So with mis (“bad”) in front of it, it literally means “bad luck.” Mishaps can be accidents of great consequence or minimal consequence. People often say that an event went off “without a mishap,” meaning that it went smoothly. Hopefully this will be the case if you ever get knee surgery.

Definitions of mishap
  1. noun

    an unpredictable outcome that is unfortunate

    bad luck, mischance
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    type of:

    chance, fortune, hazard, luck

    an unknown and unpredictable phenomenon that causes an event to result one way rather than another

  2. noun

    an instance of misfortune

    misadventure, mischance
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    an unfortunate mishap; especially one causing damage or injury
    near miss

    an accidental collision that is narrowly avoided

    an accident in which a train runs off its track
    ground loop

    a sharp uncontrollable turn made by an airplane while moving along the ground

    loss of air pressure in a tire when a hole is made by some sharp object
    slip, trip

    an accidental misstep threatening (or causing) a fall

    (computer science) an event that causes a computer system to become inoperative
    fall, spill, tumble

    a sudden drop from an upright position

    an accident resulting from violent impact of a moving object
    crash, wreck

    a serious accident (usually involving one or more vehicles)
    accidental injury, injury

    an accident that results in physical damage or hurt
    shipwreck, wreck

    an accident that destroys a ship at sea
    casualty, fatal accident

    an accident that causes someone to die
    head crash

    (computer science) a crash of a read/write head in a hard disk drive (usually caused by contact of the head with the surface of the magnetic disk)
    type of:

    bad luck, misfortune

    unnecessary and unforeseen trouble resulting from an unfortunate event

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