[aw-fuh n, of-uh n; awf-tuh n, of-]
- many times; frequently: He visits his parents as often as he can.
- in many cases.
- Archaic. frequent.
Origin of often
1300–50; Middle English oftin, variant before vowels of ofte oft
SynonymsSee more synonyms for often on Thesaurus.com
1, 2. repeatedly, customarily. Often, frequently, generally, usually refer to experiences that are customary. Often and frequently may be used interchangeably in most cases, but often implies numerous repetitions and, sometimes, regularity of recurrence: We often go there; frequently suggests especially repetition at comparatively short intervals: It happens frequently. Generally refers to place and means universally: It is generally understood. He is generally liked; but it is often used as a colloquial substitute for usually. In this sense, generally, like usually, refers to time, and means in numerous instances. Generally, however, extends in range from the merely numerous to a majority of possible instances; whereas usually means practically always: The train is generally on time. We usually have hot summers.
1, 2. seldom.
Often was pronounced with a t -sound until the 17th century, when a pronunciation without the [t] /t/ came to predominate in the speech of the educated, in both North America and Great Britain, and the earlier pronunciation fell into disfavor. Common use of a spelling pronunciation has since restored the [t] /t/ for many speakers, and today [aw-fuh n] /ˈɔ fən/ and [awf-tuh n] /ˈɔf tən/ [or [of-uh n] /ˈɒf ən/ and [of-tuh n] /ˈɒf tən/ ] exist side by side. Although it is still sometimes criticized, often with a [t] /t/ is now so widely heard from educated speakers that it has become fully standard once again.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
- frequently or repeatedly; much of the timeArchaic equivalents: oftentimes, ofttimes
- as often as not quite frequently
- every so often at intervals
- more often than not in more than half the instances
- archaic repeated; frequent
C14: variant of oft before vowels and h
Word Origin and History for often
c.1300, extended form of oft, originally before vowels and h-, probably by influence of Middle English selden "seldom." In common use from 16c., replacing oft.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Idioms and Phrases with often
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.