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)

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Synonyms & Antonyms for seldom

Synonyms: Adverb

Antonyms: Adverb

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb Creators working within the confines of an existing and lucrative franchise seldom have much creative freedom. Washington Post, "The future of Star Wars has arrived, and it takes place hundreds of years in the past," 23 Feb. 2021 Hand sanitizer and face masks are seldom among their meager possessions. Diane Bell Columnist, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column: Street teens go from homeless to giving thanks," 25 Nov. 2020 Opening a closet door is seldom an entry point to memories and musings. Karen Martin, Arkansas Online, "OPINION | KAREN MARTIN: Cherished possessions behind a closet door," 15 Feb. 2021 The second wave was seldom prospectors looking for gold. John Schandelmeier, Anchorage Daily News, "Help write the history of Alaska’s second wave of newcomers, who lived and died in the backcountry," 7 Feb. 2021 Deck and porch steps are seldom less than 4 ft. wide. Joseph Truini, Popular Mechanics, "How to Build Stairs in 3 Steps," 18 Jan. 2021 Midterm elections are seldom kind to a new president’s party, and Democrats are approaching 2022 with anxiety. Joe Garofoli,, "Capitol attack may have divided Republicans, but it didn’t make Biden’s job easier," 9 Jan. 2021 The Parent Plus program was originally designed for higher-income parents for use at private colleges, and repaying was seldom a problem. NBC News, "Parent Plus loans are burying families in college debt," 17 Nov. 2020 Managing a nest egg seldom has been more complicated. Michael A. Pollock, WSJ, "With Interest Rates Low, What’s a Retiree to Do?," 15 Nov. 2020 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.

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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

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Time Traveler for seldom

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for seldom

Last Updated

4 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Seldom.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for seldom



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.

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Comments on seldom

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