sel·​dom | \ˈsel-dəm \

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

infrequently, little, rarely

Antonyms: Adverb

frequently, oft, often, oftentimes (or ofttimes)

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb

In the tug of war between workers and investors, Americans living on a paycheck have seldom been left with a shorter end of the rope. Patricia Cohen,, "Paychecks lag as profits soar, and prices erode wage gains," 14 July 2018 But despite being on the books for more than a decade, the law is seldom enforced, the Dispatch reported last September. Benjamin Brown, Fox News, "Ohio has rarely used 2007 law that protects strippers: report," 12 July 2018 But authorities seldom challenge many of these claims, particularly the ubiquitous assurances of lower prices, despite decades of evidence that such promises hardly ever come to fruition. David Lazarus,, "When companies say a merger will result in lower prices, try laughing in their face," 10 July 2018 But such help seldom comes, forcing her to beg on the streets each day for survival. Washington Post, "Empty stomachs drive Venezuela soldiers to desert in droves," 18 May 2018 Their parents seldom spoke of Munich, St. Ottilien or the years prior. Emanuella Grinberg, Smithsonian, "When a Bavarian Monastery Provided a Home to Jewish Refugees," 11 July 2018 But the next part of Holaday’s routine is something Realmuto seldom has to worry about: catching bullpen sessions around 2:45. Matthew Defranks,, "Inside the thankless yet essential routine of Marlins backup catcher Bryan Holaday," 10 July 2018 Those living in tenements seldom have access to bank loans and often lack the means to make mortgage payments. Rina Chandran, The Christian Science Monitor, "Slum dwellers in the Philippines build homes through community programs," 7 June 2018 Roseanne Barr and Samantha Bee seldom have anything interesting to say. Andrew Klavan, WSJ, "A Tale of Two Indecencies Shows How We Got Trump," 4 June 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.

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


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


see seldom entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about seldom

Dictionary Entries near seldom








Statistics for seldom

Last Updated

12 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for seldom

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for seldom



English Language Learners Definition of seldom

: not often : almost never


sel·​dom | \ˈsel-dəm \

Kids Definition of seldom

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


noxious or harmful

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

A Thanksgiving Word Quiz

  • a-traditional-thanksgiving-dinner
  • November comes from a word for which of the following numbers?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Dictionary Devil

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!