[aw-fuhn, of-uhn; awf-tuhn, of-]
many times; frequently: He visits his parents as often as he can.
in many cases.
Archaic. frequent.

1300–50; Middle English oftin, variant before vowels of ofte oft

oftenness, noun

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] 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] for many speakers, and today [aw-fuhn] and [awf-tuhn] [or [of-uhn] and [of-tuhn] ] exist side by side. Although it is still sometimes criticized, often with a [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 Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
often (ˈɒfən, ˈɒftən)
1.  oftentimes, Archaic equivalents: ofttimes frequently or repeatedly; much of the time
2.  as often as not quite frequently
3.  every so often at intervals
4.  more often than not in more than half the instances
5.  archaic repeated; frequent
[C14: variant of oft before vowels and h]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

c.1300, extended form of oft, originally before vowels and h-, probably by infl. of M.E. selden "seldom." In common use from 16c., replacing oft.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases


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

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Example sentences
Peasants have frequently and often violently resisted attempts to change their
But the degree of adaptation of species to the climates under which they live
  is often overrated.
He has no ease or grace, and often labours to give point to his humour and
  weight to his serious utterances.
He was often discovered praying on his knees under some tree, whilst his flocks
  were browsing on the hills.
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