- The definition of often is many times or frequently.
An example of often is how many times someone has to change the diaper of a baby each day.
A baby needs to have its diaper changed often.Licensed from iStockPhoto
Origin: Middle English variant, variety of oft
Used by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
adverb of·ten·er, of·ten·est
Origin: Middle English, alteration (probably influenced by selden, seldom) of oft, from Old English; see upo in Indo-European roots.Usage Note: During the 15th century English experienced a widespread loss of certain consonant sounds within consonant clusters, as the (d) in handsome and handkerchief, the (p) in consumption and raspberry, and the (t) in chestnut and often. In this way the consonant clusters were simplified and made easier to articulate. With the rise of public education and literacy and, consequently, people's awareness of spelling in the 19th century, sounds that had become silent sometimes were restored, as is the case with the t in often, which is now frequently pronounced. In other similar words, such as soften and listen, the t generally remains silent.