From Middle English often, alteration (with final -n added due to analogy with Middle English selden (“seldom”)) of Middle English ofte, oft, from Old English oft (“often”), from Proto-Germanic *ufta, *uftō (“often”). Cognate with Scots oftin (“often”), North Frisian oftem (“often”), Saterland Frisian oafte (“often”), German oft (“often”), Norwegian and Danish ofte (“often”), Swedish ofta (“often”), Icelandic oft (“often”).
- (Received Pronunciation) IPA(key): /ˈɒf(t)ən/, (East Anglia, Historical RP) /ˈɔːf(t)ən/
- (US) IPA(key): /ˈɔf(t)ən/
- (US, cot–caught merger, Canada) IPA(key): /ˈɑf(t)ən/
Audio (US) (file)
- Rhymes: -ɒfən, -ɒftən
- Homophone: orphan (non-rhotic accents with the lot–cloth split)
- Hyphenation: of‧ten
- Historically, the /t/ was pronounced but the current pronunciation was standardized after it stopped being pronounced (as in e.g. listen, soften, glisten). Therefore, the modern forms where the /t/ is pronounced (compare oft) are spelling-influenced pronunciations. The traditional /t/-less form is considered by many to be "more correct" for that reason.
- Frequently; many times.
- 2013 June 8, “Obama goes troll-hunting”, in The Economist, volume 407, number 8839, page 55:
- According to this saga of intellectual-property misanthropy, these creatures [patent trolls] roam the business world, buying up patents and then using them to demand extravagant payouts from companies they accuse of infringing them. Often, their victims pay up rather than face the costs of a legal battle.
- I often walk to work when the weather is nice.
- I've been going to the movies more often since a new theatre opened near me.
- (archaic) Frequent.
- c. 1598–1600, William Shakespeare, “As You Like It”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies […] (First Folio), London: […] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act IV, scene i]:
- […] it is a melancholy of mine own, compounded of many simples, extracted from many objects, and, indeed, the sundry contemplation of my travels; in which my often rumination wraps me in a most humorous sadness.
- 1618, Anthony Munday (translator), The Third Booke of Amadis de Gaule by Nicolas de Herberay des Essarts (1542), London, Chapter 2, p. 18,
- Then came the Ladies to visite him, and the Queene gaue him most gracious welcome, desiring him to be of good cheere: For heere is my Daughter (quoth she) right skilfull in the Art of Chirurgerie, that meanes to bee your often visitant.
- 1656, John Bunyan, Solomon’s Temple Spiritualiz’d, London: George Larkin, 1688, Chapter 48, p. 113,
- The Shew-bread by an often remove, and renewing, was continually to stand before the Lord in his House […]