Meaning Of Idiom ‘Happy-Go-Lucky’

A person who is happy-go-lucky is carefree and happy all the time; a person who does not worry about anything. 1Jarvie, Gordon. Bloomsbury Dictionary of Idioms. London: Bloomsbury, 2009.,2McCarthy, Michael. Cambridge International Dictionary of Idioms. Cambridge University Press, 2002

Examples Of Use

“My brother has always been so happy-go-lucky. That’s why it surprised me when he became involved in politics.”

“Why is that guy grinning all the time?” “Who, Vic? He’s just a happy-go-lucky kind of guy. That’s just the way he is.”

“We can’t be happy-go-lucky all the time, no matter how much we want to. Some things are important.”


Used since at least the early 1800s, this idiom began with a different meaning and was uttered when someone was entering into a situation with an uncertain outcome. Upon embarking on a perilous sea voyage, for instance, a person might express hesitation with the prospects of the trip, but, to muster good spirits, say ‘Regardless, happy-go-lucky. Let’s see what happens.” Shifting to its modern sense by the 1900s, it was used in Moby Dick, by Herman Melville (1851):

“Stubb was the second mate. He was a native of Cape Cod; and hence, according to local usage, was called a Cape-cod man. A happy-go-lucky: neither craven nor valiant, taking perils as they came with an indifferent air; and while not engaged in the most imminent crisis of the chase, toiling away, calm and collected as a journeyman joiner engaged for the year.”

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