happen (up)on (someone or something)

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happen (up)on (someone or something)

To find or encounter someone or something randomly or without planning or intent. I happened on a quaint new craft store the other day. I happened upon your brother yesterday in the grocery store.
See also: happen
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

happen (up)on someone or something

to come upon someone or something, as if by accident. (See also come (up)on someone or something.) I just happened upon a strange little man in the street who offered to sell me a watch. Andrew happened on a book that interested him, so he bought it.
See also: happen, on
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

happen on

or happen upon
To find or meet someone or something accidentally: She happened on a $10 bill that lay on the sidewalk. The detective happened upon a clue while searching the cabin.
See also: happen, on
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs. Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
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References in periodicals archive ?
Or are they selling something else, something the unlucky monkeys, who outnumber the lucky primates nearly 20 to one, didn't happen upon?
If, during our excavations we happen upon inhumations or cremations, we are required to apply for a licence from the local coroner in order to exhume.
Abundant, broadly distributed reservoirs mean that mosquitoes are likely to happen upon a virus-hot meal and then spread the disease.
While flicking through the TV channels, you happen upon C4's Time Team with Tony Robinson.
The Dingle is surprised to happen upon his old flame Danielle at the nightspot.
The butterflies that exhibited color variations did not happen upon them as if they went shopping for new clothes.
But this retro sound will only achieve that goal if the lads happen upon a time machine and set the controls for 1966.
For one thing, ants don't just happen upon the fungus they tend.
DON'T forget to tune in to tomorrow night's edition of Rosemary And Thyme on ITV1, so that you can find out what Felicity Kendal and Pam Ferris (AKA Rosemary and Thyme) are getting up to as they go about their gardening business but also happen upon a murder mystery or two.
Geologists normally happen upon landslide scenes long after the action has ended.
Leprechauns have been known to take deadly revenge on those who happen upon them.
If biologists were to happen upon a new animal species with teeth and claws, they would take precautions even though the animal might turn out to be a pussycat.