once in a while

once in a while
O o


    • US Pronunciation
    • US IPA
    • UK Pronunciation
    • UK IPA
    • [wuhns in ey hwahyl, wahyl]
    • /wʌns ɪn eɪ ʰwaɪl, waɪl/
    • /wʌns ɪn ə waɪl/
    • US Pronunciation
    • US IPA
    • [wuhns in ey hwahyl, wahyl]
    • /wʌns ɪn eɪ ʰwaɪl, waɪl/

Definitions of once in a while words

  • adverb once in a while at one time in the past; formerly: I was a farmer once; a once powerful nation. 1
  • adverb once in a while a single time: We ate there just once. We go to a movie once a week. 1
  • adverb once in a while even a single time; at any time; ever: If the facts once become known, it will be just too bad. 1
  • adverb once in a while by a single step, degree, or grade: a cousin once removed. 1
  • adjective once in a while former; having at one time been: the once and future king. 1
  • noun once in a while a single occasion; one time only: Once is enough. 1

Information block about the term

Origin of once in a while

First appearance:

before 1150
One of the 7% oldest English words
before 1150; Middle English ones, Old English ānes, orig. genitive of ān one; replacing Middle English enes, Old English ǣnes once, equivalent to ǣne once (orig. instrumental of ān) + -es adv. suffix; see -s1

Historical Comparancy

Parts of speech for Once in a while


once in a while popularity

A common word. It’s meaning is known to most children of preschool age. About 97% of English native speakers know the meaning and use the word.
Most Europeans know this English word. The frequency of it’s usage is somewhere between "mom" and "screwdriver".

once in a while usage trend in Literature

This diagram is provided by Google Ngram Viewer

Synonyms for once in a while

adv once in a while

  • alternately — in an alternating sequence or position
  • at random — If you choose people or things at random, you do not use any particular method, so they all have an equal chance of being chosen.
  • at times — You use at times to say that something happens or is true on some occasions or at some moments.
  • finely — in a fine manner; excellently; elegantly; delicately; minutely; nicely; subtly.
  • from time to time — the system of those sequential relations that any event has to any other, as past, present, or future; indefinite and continuous duration regarded as that in which events succeed one another.

adverb once in a while

  • discontinuously — In a discontinuous manner; not continuously.
  • infrequently — happening or occurring at long intervals or rarely: infrequent visits.
  • occasionally — at times; from time to time; now and then.
  • whimsically — given to whimsy or fanciful notions; capricious: a pixyish, whimsical fellow.

See also

Matching words

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