of·​ten | \ ˈȯ-fən How to pronounce often (audio) , ˈȯf-tən How to pronounce often (audio) \

Definition of often

: many times : frequently are often puzzled and sometimes annoyed by the ways of other peoples— W. A. Parker

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Examples of often in a Sentence

They go out to dinner fairly often. How often do you call your mother? The condition often returns even after treatment with antibiotics. I often take a walk during my lunch break. He travels more often than I do. The disease is diagnosed most often in children. They seem to be getting into arguments more and more often. It's not often that I get to enjoy a day off. Water the plants often enough to keep the soil moist.
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Recent Examples on the Web

In San Francisco, outreach teams often have nothing to offer homeless people because all shelters and treatment slots are full. Heather Knight, SFChronicle.com, "Welcome home: Trips abroad put San Francisco’s chaotic streets in perspective," 13 July 2019 But people often have no idea that their faces ended up in them. Cade Metz, BostonGlobe.com, "Companies gather massive databases of people’s images for facial recognition tools," 13 July 2019 In a league where players have often had power, stars wield it with greater authority in today’s NBA. Jeff Zillgitt, USA TODAY, "Opinion: In today's NBA, every summer can be a blockbuster, whether players are free agents or not," 12 July 2019 Raised by a single mother who escaped an abusive relationship with his father, and with gang members looking to recruit him, Moore, who often didn’t have enough to eat, barely allowed himself to imagine a life that transcended his circumstances. Margaret Wappler, latimes.com, "Crazy about books? These 5 L.A. book events offer inspiring stories from Los Angeles and beyond," 12 July 2019 Troupe members often have multiple responsibilities, such as Adams, who is artistic director, actor, reservation-taker and usher, among other roles. Melanie Feuk, Houston Chronicle, "Old West Melodrama to reach 300th performance with upcoming play in Old Town Spring," 12 July 2019 In a paper published just this week in the journal World Archaeology, Hakenbeck describes how commenters on the white supremacist forum Stormfront often use genetic studies in their arguments about racial superiority. Megan Gannon, Smithsonian, "When Ancient DNA Gets Politicized," 12 July 2019 Williams often uses science fiction as a teaching tool to push students to think about the future of a technology or policy. Rose Eveleth, WIRED, "Can Sci-Fi Writers Prepare Us for an Uncertain Future?," 12 July 2019 Changes to Medicare often have an impact on employer insurance, but the main dividend for working families could come from legislation to promote pharmaceutical competition. Washington Post, "Setbacks for Trump’s drive to lower prescription drug costs," 11 July 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'often.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of often

14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for often

Middle English, alteration of oft

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Statistics for often

Last Updated

16 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for often

The first known use of often was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for often



English Language Learners Definition of often

: many times : on many occasions


of·​ten | \ ˈȯ-fən How to pronounce often (audio) \

Kids Definition of often

: many times : frequently I think of him often.

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More from Merriam-Webster on often

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with often

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for often

Spanish Central: Translation of often

Nglish: Translation of often for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of often for Arabic Speakers

Comments on often

What made you want to look up often? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


an act or instance of editing or removing

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