only
Pronunciation
  • (RP) IPA: /ˈəʊn.li/
  • (British) IPA: /ˈəʊn.lɪ/
  • (America) IPA: /ˈoʊn.li/

Adjective

only (not comparable)

  1. Alone in a category.
    He is the only doctor for miles.
    The only people in the stadium were the fans: no players, coaches, or officials.
    That was the only time I went to Turkey.
  2. Singularly superior; the best.
  3. Without sibling; without a sibling of the same gender.
    He is their only son, in fact, an only child.
    • 1949, Frank_Bunker_Gilbreth,_Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey, Cheaper by the Dozen, dedication:
      To DAD ¶ who only reared twelve children ¶ and ¶ To MOTHER ¶ who reared twelve only children
  4. (obsolete) Mere.
    • 1603, Michel de Montaigne, chapter 40, in John Florio, transl., The Essayes, […], book I, printed at London: By Val[entine] Simmes for Edward Blount […], OCLC 946730821 ↗:
      I know some who wittingly have drawne both profit and preferment from cuckoldrie, the only name whereof is so yrksome and bail-ful to so many men.
Synonyms Translations Translations Translations
Adverb

only (not comparable)

  1. Without others or anything further; exclusively.
    My heart is hers, and hers only.
    The cat sat only on the mat. It kept off the sofa.
  2. No more than; just.
    • 1949, Frank B. Gilbreth, Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey, Cheaper by the Dozen, dedication:
      To DAD
      who only reared twelve children
      and
      To MOTHER
      who reared twelve only children
    The cat only sat on the mat. It didn't scratch it.
    If there were only one more ticket!
  3. As recently as.
    He left only moments ago.
  4. Used to express surprise or consternation at an action.
    She's only gone and run off with the milkman!
  5. Introduces a disappointing or surprising outcome that renders futile something previously mentioned. See also only to, only for''.
    They rallied from a three-goal deficit only to lose in the final two minutes of play.
    I helped him out only for him to betray me.
  6. (obsolete) Above all others; particularly.
    • his most only elected mistress
Synonyms Translations Translations Translations
Conjunction
  1. (informal) Under the condition that; but.
    You're welcome to borrow my bicycle, only please take care of it.
  2. But; except.
    I would enjoy running, only I have this broken leg.
    • 1664 April 22, The Diary of Samuel Pepys:
      […] and pleasant it was, only for the dust.
    • 1611, The Holy Bible, […] (King James Version), imprinted at London: By Robert Barker, […], OCLC 964384981 ↗, Exodus 8:28 ↗:
      And Pharaoh said, I will let you go, that ye may sacrifice to the LORD your God in the wilderness; only ye shall not go very far away.
    • 1931, Dorothy L Sayers, The Five Red Herrings chapter 24:
      […] oot of a' six suspects there's not one that's been proved to ha' been nigh the place where the corpse was found, only Mr Graham.
Related terms Translations Translations Translations
Noun

only (plural onlys)

  1. An only child.
    • 2013, Sybil L. Hart, Maria Legerstee, Handbook of Jealousy
      The consistent finding […] that infants who are onlies do not differ from those who have siblings despite their lesser history of exposure to differential treatment is perplexing.



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