See also: oňly

English edit

Alternative forms edit

Etymology edit

From Middle English oonly, onli, onlych, onelich, anely, from Old English ānlīċ, ǣnlīċ (like; similar; equal), from Proto-Germanic *ainalīkaz, equivalent to one +‎ -ly. Cognate with obsolete Dutch eenlijk, German ähnlich (similar), Old Norse álíkr, Swedish enlig (unified). Regarding the different phonological development of only and one, see the note in one.

Pronunciation edit

  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈəʊn.li/, (in fast speech) /ˈəʊn.i/
  • (US) IPA(key): /ˈoʊn.li/
  • (file)
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -əʊnli, -oʊnli
  • Hyphenation: on‧ly

Adjective edit

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.
    He was the only male in attendance at the boyband concert.
    That was the only time I went to Turkey.
    • 2013 July 26, Nick Miroff, “Mexico gets a taste for eating insects []”, in The Guardian Weekly, volume 189, number 7, page 32:
      The San Juan market is Mexico City's most famous deli of exotic meats, where an adventurous shopper can hunt down hard-to-find critters such as ostrich, wild boar and crocodile. Only the city zoo offers greater species diversity.
  2. Singularly superior; the best.
    • 1623, William Shakespeare, As You Like It:
      Motley's the only wear.
    • 1888, United States. Department of State, Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, page 316:
      The baron had taken a great liking to the Americans and to their ways of doing things, and frequently asserted that America was the only place to live.
    • 2015, Mike Lupica, The Only Game, →ISBN, pages 58–59:
      "People say there's other games," Jack had said to Cassie at Small Falls earlier that day. "But baseball's the only game."
  3. Without sibling; without a sibling of the same gender.
    He is their only son, in fact, an only child.
  4. (obsolete) Mere.

Synonyms edit

Hyponyms edit

Derived terms edit

Translations edit

Adverb edit

only (not comparable)

  1. Without others or anything further; exclusively.
    • 2013 June 7, Ed Pilkington, “‘Killer robots’ should be banned in advance, UN told”, in The Guardian Weekly, volume 188, number 26, page 6:
      In his submission to the UN, [Christof] Heyns points to the experience of drones. Unmanned aerial vehicles were intended initially only for surveillance, and their use for offensive purposes was prohibited, yet once strategists realised their perceived advantages as a means of carrying out targeted killings, all objections were swept out of the way.
    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
    • 1963, Margery Allingham, chapter 20, in The China Governess: A Mystery, London: Chatto & Windus, →OCLC:
      ‘No. I only opened the door a foot and put my head in. The street lamps shine into that room. I could see him. He was all right. Sleeping like a great grampus. Poor, poor chap.’
    • 1931, Dorothy L Sayers, chapter 24, in The Five Red Herrings:
      [] 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.
    • 2013 June 22, “Engineers of a different kind”, in The Economist, volume 407, number 8841, page 70:
      Private-equity nabobs bristle at being dubbed mere financiers. Piling debt onto companies’ balance-sheets is only a small part of what leveraged buy-outs are about, they insist. Improving the workings of the businesses they take over is just as core to their calling, if not more so. Much of their pleading is public-relations bluster.
    The cat only sat on the mat. It didn't scratch it.
    If there were only one more ticket!
  3. As recently as.
    • c. 1924-1955, anonymous, The Urantia Book
      Only yesterday did I feed you with bread for your bodies; today I offer you the bread of life for your hungry souls.
    • 2013 August 3, “Yesterday’s fuel”, in The Economist, volume 408, number 8847:
      The dawn of the oil age was fairly recent. Although the stuff was used to waterproof boats in the Middle East 6,000 years ago, extracting it in earnest began only in 1859 after an oil strike in Pennsylvania. The first barrels of crude fetched $18 (around $450 at today’s prices).
    He left only moments ago.
  4. Emphasizing something that is just or necessary.
    It's only fair to let him borrow your kite, after you've had his toys all day.
    He'd been belittling her for years. It's only natural that she left.
  5. (Britain) Used to express surprise or consternation at an action.
    She's only gone and run off with the milkman!
    • 2012, David Walliams [pseudonym; David Edward Williams], Ratburger, London: HarperCollins Children’s Books, →ISBN:
      The van said ‘BURT’S BURGERS’ on one side and ‘BURT’S PEST CONTROL’ on the other. Zoe stared at the van. The creepy man was only using the same vehicle for catching rats that he did for frying burgers!
  6. Introduces a disappointing or surprising outcome that renders futile something previously mentioned.
    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.
    • 2012 May 5, Phil McNulty, “Chelsea 2-1 Liverpool”, in BBC Sport[1]:
      He met Luis Suarez's cross at the far post, only for Chelsea keeper Petr Cech to show brilliant reflexes to deflect his header on to the bar. Carroll turned away to lead Liverpool's insistent protests that the ball had crossed the line but referee Phil Dowd and assistant referee Andrew Garratt waved play on, with even a succession of replays proving inconclusive.
  7. (obsolete) Above all others; particularly.

Synonyms edit

Derived terms edit

Translations edit

The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.

Conjunction edit

only

  1. (informal) Under the condition that; but. (clarification of this definition is needed)
    You're welcome to borrow my bicycle, only please take care of it.
  2. But; except. (clarification of this definition is needed)
    I would enjoy running, only I have this broken leg.
    She would get good results only she gets nervous.

Related terms edit

Translations edit

The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.

Noun edit

only (plural onlys or onlies)

  1. An only child.
    • 1995, Don Martin, Maggie Martin, Pat Jeffers, Is Your Family Making You Fat?, page 101:
      Sometimes, secondborns marry onlys and the conflicts are similar.
    • 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.
    • 2022 November 1, Chiara Dello Joio, “Why Are People Weird About Only Children?”, in The Atlantic[2]:
      And in 2016, researchers in China took MRI brain scans and found that, compared with kids with siblings, onlies showed greater flexibility—a measurement of creativity—but lower agreeableness.

Translations edit

References edit

  • only”, in OneLook Dictionary Search.

Anagrams edit