"You canker blossom!" 3 Shakespearean Insults


[sel-duh m] /ˈsɛl dəm/
on only a few occasions; rarely; infrequently; not often:
We seldom see our old neighbors anymore.
rare; infrequent.
Origin of seldom
before 900; Middle English; Old English seldum, variant of seldan; cognate with German selten, Gothic silda-
Related forms
seldomness, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for seldom
  • The end of the road is seldom accompanied by teeming civilization, which is the essence of its seduction.
  • Drawers on casters conceal seldom-used items under the bed.
  • Actually, the winters are so mild here that lows seldom fall below freezing.
  • As you might expect, mâche grows as easily as a weed, but you'll need to start from seed since plants are seldom sold.
  • Nurseries seldom sell these as plants, but you can easily start them from seed.
  • seldom-seen rulers of their wintry domain, lynx may face new threats.
  • Families can seldom get to the bottom of what happened to their loved ones.
  • Some fall into the more traditional type, but there are a few that stand out with more seldom-seen game mechanics, too.
  • And even more seldom do they resolve their differences by sleeping together.
  • But seldom can the sounds around it be designated as music.
British Dictionary definitions for seldom


not often; rarely
Word Origin
Old English seldon; related to Old Norse sjāldan, Old High German seltan
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for seldom

late Old English seldum, alteration of seldan "seldom, rarely," from Proto-Germanic *selda- "strange, rare" (cf. Old Norse sjaldan, Old Frisian selden, Dutch zelden, Old High German seltan, German selten), perhaps ultimately from the base of self (q.v.).

Form shifted on analogy of adverbial dative plurals in -um (e.g. whilom "at one time," from while). The same development also created litlum from little, miclum from mickle. German seltsam "strange, odd," Dutch zeldzaam are related, but with the second element conformed to their versions of -some.

Seldom-times is from mid-15c. (Old English had seldhwanne "seldwhen"). Seldom-seen is from mid-15c. (Old English had seldsiene, "seld-seen").

Some compounds using the old form survived through Middle English, e.g. selcouth"rarely or little-known, unusual, strange, wonderful," from Old English selcuð, seld-cuð, from seldan + cuð (see couth). Old English seldan had comparative seldor, superlative seldost; in early Middle English, as seldan changed form and lost its connection with these, selde was formed as a positive. Shakespeare uses seld-shown.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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