sel·​dom | \ ˈsel-dəm How to pronounce seldom (audio) \

Definition of seldom

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: in few instances : rarely, infrequently



Definition of seldom (Entry 2 of 2)

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms & Antonyms for seldom

Synonyms: Adverb

Antonyms: Adverb

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of seldom in a Sentence

Adverb Employers also say that foreign-born workers tend to work harder, be more reliable, and complain less than the natives they can hire at the same wage. This is not surprising. Unskilled immigrants have seldom finished secondary school, but they have overcome all kinds of obstacles both to get here and to stay here. — Christopher Jencks, New York Review of Books, 27 Sept. 2007 "The pervasive theme is rebellion." Laurel Thatcher Ulrich begins her new book, "Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History," struggling to explain—understand—the appeal of an aside she made in the spring 1976 issue of an academic journal, a comment that has become a popular slogan printed on T-shirts and coffee mugs and bumper stickers, usually without her permission and often without attribution. — Kathryn Harrison, New York Times Book Review, 30 Sept. 2007 Kangaroo rats belong to a North American family of rodents well known for living in arid habitats, where they forage almost exclusively for seeds. They seldom have access to drinking water, but instead get most of their moisture from digesting the seeds. — Michael A. Mares, Natural History, November 2003 We seldom go to the movies. This type of turtle seldom grows over four inches in length.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb Throughout her career, López seldom made LGBT or women’s rights her sole or main issue, focusing instead on a wider array of topics from improving public education and transportation to leading the charge against corruption. Washington Post, "Vote for mayor of Bogota breaks a Colombian ‘glass ceiling’," 29 Oct. 2019 Yet psychological realism and subtle transformation seldom make for award-winning performances. Matthew Eng, Los Angeles Times, "Commentary: Why the Emmys shouldn’t overlook ‘Sharp Objects’ ’ Amy Adams," 18 Sep. 2019 Modi, who seldom makes national addresses, made no mention of the protests. Jeffrey Gettleman And,, "As Modi addresses India, protests flare in Kashmir," 8 Aug. 2019 Cons: The Eagles seldom visit Southern California, and Philadelphia is 2,700 miles from San Diego. Tom Krasovic,, "Advice for 'free-agent' San Diego fans still looking for NFL team," 6 Feb. 2018 For example, Obama's suits seldom make the news (except for that one time), but his hair on the other hand? Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "Is Hair the One Thing On Which Male and Female Politicians Are On Equal Footing?," 14 July 2016 Likewise, in the real world, seating charts, meeting schedules and delivery routes can seldom be made optimal. Quanta Magazine, "Theorists Draw Closer to Perfect Coloring," 20 Oct. 2015 Since becoming chairman nearly two years ago, Powell has sent a message seldom heard from his predecessors: That the Fed should consider the struggles of the lowest-income Americans in setting its interest-rate policies. Washington Post, "Jerome meets Jasmine: Fed chief observes economic struggles," 25 Nov. 2019 The program since 1977 has given certain inmates an opportunity to leave the jail during the day to attend their jobs, though it was seldom used during the past five years. Hannah Morse, USA TODAY, "After Jeffrey Epstein debacle, Florida sheriff will end work-release program," 17 Dec. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Emergency management, which at one time was a relatively seldom occurrence, now happens almost on a monthly basis. ... Christopher Keating,, "On a fishing trip with Gov. Cuomo, Gov. Lamont discusses transportation, tourism, energy -- and catches a few trout," 20 Aug. 2019

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

See More

First Known Use of seldom


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above


13th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for seldom

Adverb and Adjective

Middle English, from Old English seldan; akin to Old High German seltan seldom

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about seldom

Time Traveler for seldom

Time Traveler

The first known use of seldom was before the 12th century

See more words from the same century

Statistics for seldom

Last Updated

19 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Seldom.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 26 January 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for seldom


How to pronounce seldom (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of seldom

: not often : almost never


sel·​dom | \ ˈsel-dəm How to pronounce seldom (audio) \

Kids Definition of seldom

: not often : rarely He seldom talks about his past.

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on seldom

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for seldom

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with seldom

Spanish Central: Translation of seldom

Nglish: Translation of seldom for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of seldom for Arabic Speakers

Comments on seldom

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


to express in a more acceptable way

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Intact Latin Quiz

  • roman tablet
  • What did focus mean in Latin?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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