\ ˈwən(t)s How to pronounce once (audio) \

Definition of once

 (Entry 1 of 4)

1 : one time and no more rode a horse only once went skydiving once
2 : at any one time : under any circumstances : ever didn't once thank me
3 : at some indefinite time in the past : formerly was once a booming mining town
4 : by one degree of relationship first cousin once removed
once and for all
1 : with finality : definitively The team proved once and for all that they are the best.
2 : for the last time I'm telling you once and for all that I'm not going.
once in a while
: now and then spent most of their time at home, but went out once in a while



Definition of once (Entry 2 of 4)

: one single time : one time at least Please be on time this once.
at once
1 : at the same time : simultaneously
3 : both entry 2 at once funny and sad



Definition of once (Entry 3 of 4)

: that once was : former … contributions to enrich the legal resources of the once province of Britain.— J. N. Pomeroy

Definition of once (Entry 4 of 4)

: at the moment when : as soon as Once she spoke, I recognized her.

Synonyms for once

Synonyms: Adverb

Synonyms: Adjective

Synonyms: Conjunction

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of once in a Sentence

Adverb I will repeat the question once. The play was performed only once. She didn't once thank me. He didn't look at me once. It was once done that way. A river once flowed through this canyon. It was once a booming mining town. Their music was once very popular. Noun I have tried Indian food more than once. Please be on time just this once. For once you seem to know what I'm talking about. Adjective the once child star is now a lawyer in the entertainment industry Conjunction Once she spoke, I recognized her. you should have stopped wrestling once you knew someone was getting hurt, not five minutes later See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb Doing so will once again position a true freshman running back to have an immediate impact, as was the case with Henderson in 2021 and J.K. Dobbins in 2017. Stephen Means, cleveland, 30 July 2022 Because the Mega Millions prize once again exceeds $1 billion, hopeful winners are flocking to the 7-Eleven outside of Chino Hills, California. Sarah Rumpf, Fox News, 30 July 2022 The Twitterverse, once again, has targeted the wrong Will Smith. Todd Spangler, Variety, 29 July 2022 Luckily, once again, Evan knew better than all of us. Lindzi Scharf, Los Angeles Times, 29 July 2022 Dear Evan Hansen now has three productions running across the globe, with its Broadway, North American Tour and West End companies once again playing in tandem. Dave Quinn, PEOPLE.com, 29 July 2022 On Wednesday night, the dragons of Game of Thrones landed once again—albeit far from the shores of Westeros. Liam Hess, Vogue, 29 July 2022 Bad Bunny — once again — made history after his concert was broadcast live from the Telemundo television channel in Puerto Rico and at 13 strategic points around the island. Jennifer A. Marcial Ocasio, Orlando Sentinel, 29 July 2022 After a few months, Bruno overcame his injuries and once again began preparing for Ironman events. Seth Carnell, USA TODAY, 29 July 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Voyager is a once in a lifetime, and perhaps many lifetimes, mission. Naman Ramachandran, Variety, 7 Mar. 2022 The binge-it-all-at-once model, for example, is no longer inviolable. Andy Meek, BGR, 19 June 2022 Experts recommend giving your fridge the once over every week, especially the crispers and the meat storage areas. Terry Baddoo, USA TODAY, 10 May 2022 The all-at-once release model that Netflix pioneered gave users the freedom to consume TV at their own pace. John Jurgensen, WSJ, 29 Apr. 2022 The renewal comes just under a month after Life & Beth’s all-at-once release. Rick Porter, The Hollywood Reporter, 13 Apr. 2022 But with bigger crowds and first-time visitors modeling other travelers’ behaviors, even small just-this-once choices can add up. Stephanie Vermillion, Outside Online, 11 Mar. 2022 During a once in a lifetime pandemic when people were desperate for information, CNN and every other network took the briefings live. Fox News, 4 Feb. 2022 Despite never coaching above the high school level, Josh McCown has now had three interviews with the Texans to become their head coach - once in January 2021 and twice this month. Matt Young, Chron, 28 Jan. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Now, with the once-bedroom communities of Herriman and Copperton, for example, growing, even booming, the transportation plans are becoming outdated. Alixel Cabrera, The Salt Lake Tribune, 20 Apr. 2022 For now the once globe-trotting Ghosn is stuck in Lebanon, unable to travel overseas without risking arrest and a return to Japan. Reuters, CNN, 2 Mar. 2022 The once chairman for Disney and 20th Century Fox has also directed films including Coupe de Ville and America’s Sweethearts. Spencer Elliott, Forbes, 15 Oct. 2021 All around him, a heavy blanket of smoke camouflaged the once pristine lake with a gray and brown haze that made the water difficult to see even from just a few feet away. NBC News, 12 Sep. 2021 Tents were pitched by people using the once grand station lobby as a shelter. BostonGlobe.com, 3 Sep. 2021 Don Tracy of Springfield, who was elected state GOP chairman in February, acknowledged the party’s base has shifted to less populous rural Downstate areas while the once bedrock Republican collar counties become increasingly Democratic. Dan Petrella, chicagotribune.com, 19 Aug. 2021 Anne Boelyn, the once queen of England, was informally accused of witchcraft. Brooklyn White, Essence, 13 Aug. 2021 Natasha and Yelena resolve to topple Dreykov and the Red Room, a mission that requires them to reconnect with their once parents. Jake Coyle, Star Tribune, 29 June 2021 See More

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

First Known Use of once


12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1620, in the meaning defined above


1747, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for once

Adverb, Noun, Adjective, and Conjunction

Middle English ones, from genitive of on one

Learn More About once

Time Traveler for once

Time Traveler

The first known use of once was in the 12th century

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near once

on campus


once-accented octave

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for once

Last Updated

1 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Once.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/once. Accessed 9 Aug. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for once


\ ˈwəns How to pronounce once (audio) \

Kids Definition of once

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : one time only It happened just once.
2 : at some time in the past : formerly It was once done that way.
3 : at any one time : ever She didn't once thank me.
once and for all
: now and for the last time That should solve the problem once and for all.
once in a while
: from time to time I play golf once in a while.



Kids Definition of once (Entry 2 of 3)

: one single time We can make an exception just this once.
at once
1 : at the same time I can't understand with both of you talking at once.
2 : immediately sense 2 Leave at once.



Kids Definition of once (Entry 3 of 3)

: as soon as : when Once you've finished your homework, you may go outside.

More from Merriam-Webster on once

Nglish: Translation of once for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of once for Arabic Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Commonly Confused Words Quiz

  • vector image of a face with thought expression
  • I went to the ______ store to buy a birthday card.
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!