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What’s the difference between happy and lucky?

Some learners of English get confused between happy and lucky. These adjectives have two different meanings in English.

Happy describes a joyful or content mood.

Lucky can refer to a fortunate coincidence, a person that has success by chance, or an object that brings good fortune.

Read on for a detailed explanation of the differences between lucky and happy, then try your own luck in the free exercises.


William: Why do you look so happy?

Alphie: I’m going to ask Paige to the school dance.

William: She’s very popular, you’ll be lucky if she even says hello to you.

Alphie: That’s why I’m wearing my lucky hat!

William: Go on then, good luck!

… 5 minutes later …

Alphie: She said yes!

William: I’m so happy for you!


  • happy = feel joy or contentment
Why do you look so happy?
I’m happy for you.
  • There are lots of different ways to say happy (e.g. content, pleased, joyful, cheerful, glad, etc.)
Why do you look so pleased?


  • lucky = fortunate/something good happens by chance not through one’s own actions
You’ll be lucky if she says hello.
  • lucky + noun = something that brings good fortune
I’m wearing my lucky hat!
  • good/bad luck = good/bad fortune
Go on then, good luck.

Compare: happy vs. lucky

Compare both adjectives side-by-side in the following example:

We got lucky at the casino and won $10,000 in a poker game! I’m so happy that we can afford to buy a new car.
Being lucky in the casino = good fortune that happened by chance
Feeling happy about the money = joyful mood because of the good fortune