Definition of often in US English:

often

adverb

  • 1Frequently; many times.

    ‘he often goes for long walks by himself’
    ‘how often do you have your hair cut?’
    • ‘That line returns to me often, usually at moments such as that on the boat last week.’
    • ‘Much of his life was spent near or on the breadline and he was often dependant on patronage.’
    • ‘Also there are reps who try and build a relationship with you because they see you so often.’
    • ‘The numbers are further reduced by tight limits on how often they can be called up.’
    • ‘We fly often enough that it is marginal if it is worth paying the rearrangement fee.’
    • ‘You should try to back up your data as often as you can in case you lose it or need to reconfigure your system.’
    • ‘Those who traverse the earth's wild land often end up full of wonder and respect for it.’
    • ‘As often as possible, we try to get men into school to talk to the children about their work.’
    • ‘It is vital that we create conditions which mean more people are keen to walk more often.’
    • ‘We are told often how close to genius his work is, how unhappy he is, and how remorseful.’
    • ‘We are getting hourly updates on the radio and as often as possible on the television.’
    • ‘We often visit him in London and now he is coming down to have dinner with us here.’
    • ‘At least a garage is bigger than most rooms in the house, and probably used more often.’
    • ‘For all the enthusiasm of youth, a small helping of experience can often go a long way.’
    • ‘He often comes home late and wakes up the little ones because he wants to spend time with them.’
    • ‘We often get requests from outlying villages saying they would like to do what we do.’
    • ‘So the pub has applied for late opening, but how often it will be used remains unclear.’
    • ‘I don't go into Soho all that often at the weekend, so twice in a month is an exception.’
    • ‘I read it quite often and think that it is a top idea to try and give inspiration to us all.’
    • ‘I often serve this dish on its own with a leafy salad, or with grilled fish or chicken.’
    frequently, many times, many a time, on many occasions, on numerous occasions, a lot, in many cases, in many instances, repeatedly, again and again, time and again, time and time again, time after time, over and over, over and over again, day in, day out, week in, week out, all the time, regularly, recurrently, continually, usually, habitually, commonly, generally, ordinarily, as often as not
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 In many instances.
      ‘vocabulary often reflects social standing’
      • ‘There are bargains to be had on the site, often way below the prices in the high street shops.’
      • ‘No set of data will exactly fit a pattern but often a clear trend can be found nonetheless.’
      • ‘Car thefts in which the keys have been left in the vehicle often lead to disputed claims.’
      • ‘Increased options in life often means better decisions can be made at the end of the day.’
      • ‘It is often a cry for help in the only way that many people know how to cry out for help.’
      • ‘This is a common infection and is often caused by a combination of fungi and bacteria.’
      • ‘They are just ordinary kids who often get pushed out of the limelight by other things.’
      • ‘It argues that motorists are often confused as to how fast they can go on certain roads.’
      • ‘We often report to Social Services if one of our clients is ill or in some difficulty.’
      • ‘Art is often a trigger for my music, though it may be some years before I end up using it in a piece.’
      • ‘The scenario could often start with one gang member simply being stared at by a rival.’
      • ‘The success or failure of a piece of live drama often rests upon the pace of the production.’
      • ‘It is true that the issues are not technical as economic and social issues often are.’
      • ‘She believes the most helpful approach is often to ask them what they think will help.’
      • ‘Like most things on the web the grass roots phenomenon is often the more successful.’
      • ‘There is no pressure at this stage and that often opens the mind and the answer appears.’
      • ‘They were usually present on the dorsal side and less often on the abaxial side of a seed.’
      • ‘Those are two words which don't often appear on the same page let alone next to each other.’
      • ‘The first and most common is to use protective sprays which are often based on copper.’
      • ‘It is often used to refer to a sort of social meeting in which it is pleasant to be together.’

Usage

When pronouncing often, some speakers sound the t, saying /ˈôftən/; for others, it is silent, as in soften, fasten, listen . Either pronunciation is acceptable, although /ˈôfən/ is more common

Phrases

  • as often as not

    • Quite frequently or commonly.

      ‘I had two homes really, because as often as not I was down at her house’
      • ‘We, the readers, know no more than Watson is able to tell us, and as often as not that is not very much.’
      • ‘Moreover, they cross over onto each other's turf as often as not.’
      • ‘Internet services come, and Internet services go, taking your data with them as often as not.’
      • ‘Yet the design originated in the East Indies and, as often as not, was manufactured in Lancashire for export to African markets.’
      • ‘Many of them vote for Republican legislation as often as not.’
      • ‘Murray is laid back, good company and his chat is peppered with gales of laughter that is, as often as not, directed at his own jokes.’
      • ‘And as often as not, these things really happened.’
      • ‘A feature of the place names round here is that there are as often as not two or three with similar names, variations on a single root.’
      • ‘My sporadic work shifts end, as often as not, at 1 or 2 in the morning.’
      • ‘Now, as often as not, we take the bone out and butterfly it, so it lies flat, and can be grilled if you like.’
      frequently, many times, many a time, on many occasions, on numerous occasions, a lot, in many cases, in many instances, repeatedly, again and again, time and again, time and time again, time after time, over and over, over and over again, day in, day out, week in, week out, all the time, regularly, recurrently, continually, usually, habitually, commonly, generally, ordinarily, as often as not
      View synonyms
  • more often than not

    • Usually.

      ‘food is scarce and more often than not they go hungry’
      • ‘However, more often than not, a polite rejection note was all she received.’
      • ‘The features were all made in part for propaganda purposes but failed more often than not to carry out those objectives.’
      • ‘Each teacher has to have an area of expertise which, more often than not, is not regarded as worthy of extra points and pay.’
      • ‘History is written, more often than not, by someone who was not an eyewitness to all the events he chronicles.’
      • ‘It happens every once in a while, and more often than not there's a cry of outrage.’
      • ‘I have to say, he was usually the instigator, and, more often than not, the victor.’
      • ‘It is wonderful to hear of young people doing well as more often than not, we hear of businesses closing.’
      • ‘A football match is not a sprint and is, more often than not, a test of endurance.’
      • ‘He's quick, strong and skillful and, given the chance, he's likely to hit the target more often than not.’
      • ‘Reports to hand indicate that, more often than not, the warning lamps are not in operation.’
      overall, all in all, all things considered, altogether, taking everything into account, taking everything into consideration, on balance, on average, for the most part, mostly, mainly, in the main, chiefly, principally, predominantly, largely, in general, generally, generally speaking, as a rule, as a general rule, in the general run of things, by and large, to a large extent, to a great degree, basically, substantially, effectively, virtually, to all intents and purposes
      View synonyms

Origin

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.

Pronunciation