Nearby words

  1. onassis, aristotle socrates,
  2. onassis, jacqueline kennedy,
  3. onbeat,
  4. onboard,
  5. onc,
  6. once and for all,
  7. once bitten, twice shy,
  8. once in a blue moon,
  9. once in a lifetime,
  10. once in a while

Idioms

Origin of once

before 1150; Middle English ones, Old English ānes, orig. genitive of ān one; replacing Middle English enes, Old English ǣnes once, equivalent to ǣne once (orig. instrumental of ān) + -es adv. suffix; see -s1

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019


British Dictionary definitions for once in a while

once

/ (wʌns) /

adverb

conjunction

(subordinating) as soon as; if ever or wheneveronce you begin, you'll enjoy it

noun

Word Origin for once

C12 ones, ānes, adverbial genitive of on, ān one

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

Word Origin and History for once in a while

once

adv.

c.1200, anes, from ane "one" (see one ) + adverbial genitive. Replaced Old English æne. Spelling changed as pronunciation shifted from two syllables to one after c.1300. Pronunciation change to "wuns" parallels that of one. As an emphatic, meaning "once and for all," it is attested from c.1300, but this now is regarded as a Pennsylvania German dialect formation. Meaning "in a past time" (but not necessarily just one time) is from mid-13c.

Once upon a time as the beginning of a story is recorded from 1590s. At once originally (early 13c.) meant "simultaneously," later "in one company" (c.1300), and preserved the sense of "one" in the word; the phrase typically appeared as one word, atones; the modern meaning "immediately" is attested from 1530s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with once in a while

once in a while

Occasionally, not very often, as in Once in a while I enjoy going fishing. [Mid-1800s] Also see every now and then; from time to time.

once

In addition to the idioms beginning with once

  • once and for all
  • once bitten, twice shy
  • once in a blue moon
  • once in a lifetime
  • once in a while
  • once over lightly
  • once upon a time

also see:

  • all at once
  • at once
  • every now and then (once in a while)
  • give someone the once-over
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.