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

infrequently, little, rarely

Antonyms: Adverb

frequently, oft, often, oftentimes (or ofttimes)

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Examples of seldom in a Sentence


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

China features effective counterattacking players, but the team seldom is in position to set them up. Frank Dell’apa,, "For US women, Spain, China would pose different challenges," 17 June 2019 Being on both sides of an issue is seldom a good look politically, swing voters will see Biden buckling to his base, and Democrats are unlikely to reward him for coming late to a position that is pretty universally accepted in their primary field. NBC News, "Biden's authenticity at risk in abortion flap," 7 June 2019 France refused to join him in his war against Iraq—a war that was in equal parts immoral and stupid; France was right, and my pleasure in pointing this out is all the greater, because France has seldom been right since . . . John Cullen, Harper's magazine, "Donald Trump Is a Good President," 10 Jan. 2019 Until recently, right whales were seldom seen this far north. David Abel,, "As right whales surge north, one death too many," 15 June 2019 The Italian outing was rare for the ultra-private pair, who are seldom seen out and about. Jeff Nelson,, "Rihanna and Billionaire Boyfriend Hassan Jameel Cozy Up on Lunch Date in Italy," 7 June 2019 What Sinnott does not seem to recognize is that bears seldom venture into urban areas, plus bears avoid humans in natural bear habitat, when properly conditioned through regular hunting. Author: Jim Lieb | Opinion, Anchorage Daily News, "Intensive hunts will school bears to stay out of city," 15 Jan. 2018 Jackson had been in failing health for several years, seldom venturing outside Southern California and rarely making public appearances. Creg Stephenson,, "Legendary college football announcer Keith Jackson dead at 89," 13 Jan. 2018 Chief Executive Tim Cook has gone from touting India’s potential to seldom mentioning it now. Tripp Mickle, WSJ, "‘It’s Been a Rout’: Apple’s iPhones Fall Flat in World’s Largest Untapped Market," 18 Dec. 2018

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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Statistics for seldom

Last Updated

6 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for seldom

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

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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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More from Merriam-Webster on seldom

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with seldom

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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).


food or victuals

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