Definition of often in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈɒf(ə)n/
Pronunciation: /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.

Words that rhyme with often


For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: often

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