Definition of often in English:


Line breaks: often
Pronunciation: /ˈɒf(ə)n
, ˈɒft(ə)n

adverb (oftener, oftenest)

  • 1Frequently; many times: he often goes for long walks by himself how often do you have your hair cut?
    More example sentences
    • That line returns to me often, usually at moments such as that on the boat last week.
    • Those who traverse the earth's wild land often end up full of wonder and respect for it.
    • We are told often how close to genius his work is, how unhappy he is, and how remorseful.
  • 1.1In many instances: vocabulary often reflects social standing
    More example sentences
    • We often report to Social Services if one of our clients is ill or in some difficulty.
    • It is true that the issues are not technical as economic and social issues often are.
    • It is often used to refer to a sort of social meeting in which it is pleasant to be together.


as often as not

Quite frequently or commonly: I had two homes really, because as often as not I was down at her house
More example sentences
  • And as often as not, these things really happened.
  • Many of them vote for Republican legislation as often as not.
  • Moreover, they cross over onto each other's turf as often as not.

more often than not

Usually: food is scarce and more often than not they go hungry
More example sentences
  • I have to say, he was usually the instigator, and, more often than not, the victor.
  • He's quick, strong and skillful and, given the chance, he's likely to hit the target more often than not.
  • The features were all made in part for propaganda purposes but failed more often than not to carry out those objectives.


Middle English: extended form of oft, probably influenced by selden 'seldom'. Early examples appear to be northern English; the word became general in the 16th century.

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Pronunciation: mɪˈlɔːd
used to address an English nobleman