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

New-manager training that most employers provide seldom helps in navigating the new social dynamics. Sue Shellenbarger, WSJ, "When a Promotion Means Losing Friends at Work," 26 Feb. 2019 Unlike games played today, when lesser-talented teams use a defensive tactic and seldom attack, both teams forced the issue. Mac Engel, star-telegram, "Soccer star's death recalls biggest U.S. win in World Cup history," 18 June 2018 Recently, some national media reports had surfaced that a rift had grown between Parker and Kidd, noting that the two either seldom talked or had stopped speaking entirely. Matt Velazquez, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Jabari Parker rejects reports of rift with Jason Kidd," 23 Jan. 2018 But even the most significant special-prosecutor investigations have seldom seriously threatened the president himself. Andrew Coan, WSJ, "Why Robert Mueller’s Predecessors Usually Didn’t Prevail," 25 Jan. 2019 Academics often say tax credits seldom produce enough public benefit to justify the expense, and a recent study by the Pew Charitable Trusts says that states such as Georgia don’t even engage in adequate cost-benefit analysis. Jonathan Handel, The Hollywood Reporter, "California Extends Film Tax Credits to 2025," 27 June 2018 If a white person advocated for diversity and equality behind the closed doors of power where black faces are seldom present, people in power wouldn’t dismiss the reality of the tilted playing field. Michael Harriot, The Root, "White People Are Cowards," 19 June 2018 Elections to these positions, especially the lower-level ones, seldom get much attention. Matthew Green, Vox, "Election Day is over. Now who will lead Congress?," 12 Nov. 2018 Even after the government began to take a more hands-off approach, the caravans seldom got as far as Mexico City, though some smaller groups made it to the U.S. border. Washington Post, "Group running asylum caravan fears spotlight comes at a cost," 3 May 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

16 Mar 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).


the range of authority or knowledge

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