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[aw-fuh n, of-uh n; awf-tuh n, 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.
1300-50; Middle English oftin, variant before vowels of ofte oft
Related forms
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.
Pronunciation note
Often was pronounced with a t -sound until the 17th century, when a pronunciation without the
[t] /t/ (Show IPA)
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/
[awf-tuh n] /ˈɔf tən/
[of-uh n] /ˈɒf ən/
[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. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for often
  • Peasants have frequently and often violently resisted attempts to change their lives.
  • 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.
  • Fortune often knocks at the door, but the fool does not invite her in.
  • Let the student often stop and examine himself upon what he has read.
  • Those who plot the destruction of others often fall themselves.
  • Publishers of the cheaper annuals employed cruder engravers, or used old plates, often so worn as to be almost worthless.
  • It is for this reason that he paints so excellently, for this also that he so often exaggerates and strikes into falsetto.
  • They often speak to me first, and always show great sociability, and glad to have a good interchange of chat.
British Dictionary definitions for often


/ˈɒfən; ˈɒftən/
frequently or repeatedly; much of the time Archaic 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
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
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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
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Idioms and Phrases with often
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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