[ aw-fuhn, of-uhn; awf-tuhn, of- ]
/ ˈɔ fən, ˈɒf ən; ˈɔf tən, ˈɒf- /


many times; frequently: He visits his parents as often as he can.
in many cases.


Archaic. frequent.



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Origin of often

First recorded in 1300–50; Middle English oftin, variant before vowels of ofte; see oft

synonym study for often

1, 2. 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.

pronunciation note for often

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-fuhn] /ˈɔ fən/ and [awf-tuhn] /ˈɔf tən/ [or [of-uhn] /ˈɒf ən/ and [of-tuhn] /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.


of·ten·ness, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

British Dictionary definitions for often

/ (ˈɒfən, ˈɒftən) /


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

Word Origin for often

C14: variant of oft before vowels and h
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Idioms and Phrases with often


see every now and then (so often); more often than not.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.