Word of the Day: seldom

 
 
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Word Reference
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Word of the Day
 
November 3, 2015
 
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seldom (adverb, adjective) sound LISTEN icon
 
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When used as an adverb, seldom means that something happens rarely, or not often. Less commonly, it can also be used as an adjective, and in this case it refers to something that occurs only on very rare occasions. The adjective use is mainly in the US.
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Example sentences
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I seldom visit my hometown; I think it has been 5 years since I was last there.
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I met the love of my life during one of my seldom visits to the city.
 
Words often used with seldom
 
"Seldom, if ever" is a phrase used to mean "even less frequently than seldom." If you use this expression, you mean that something happens very infrequently, or not at all. 
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Additional information
 
For many English speakers, seldom can be too formal to use in everyday speech. It is more common to say "I don't visit my hometown very often" than "I seldom visit my hometown." To sound more like a native speaker, try to use this word only in more formal or literary contexts. In more informal contexts, you can say "not very often" or "not a lot" (eg, "I don't visit my hometown a lot").
 
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Did you know?
 
You may have heard the phrase "once in a blue moon." Technically this means about every 2.5 years, since a blue moon (meaning the second full moon in one calendar month) occurs at such intervals. But the phrase is most often used figuratively, as a synonym of seldom.
 
Origin
 
Seldom derives from the old English word "seldum," a variant of "seldan." It is a cognate with the German word "selten," and the Gothic "silda-."
 
 
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