Did you know?

Click any word in a definition or example to find the entry for that word

once

 - definition
 
 
 
Close

What are red words?

90% of the time, speakers of English use just 7,500 words in speech and writing. These words appear in red, and are graded with stars. One-star words are frequent, two-star words are more frequent, and three-star words are the most frequent.

Close

Thesaurus

The thesaurus of synonyms and related words is fully integrated into the dictionary entries. Click on the T button in an entry to review the synonyms and related words for that meaning.

more
adverb, conjunction, noun British English pronunciation: once /wʌns/
Once can be used in the following ways:
as an adverb: I only met him once.They've been here once before.
as a conjunction: Once you get there, you'll love it.
as a noun (after 'for' or 'at'): For once I wish you'd tell me the truth. (after 'the', 'this', or 'that'): Yes, I met him, but just the once.
 
  1. 1
    on one occasion only

    Cathy's only been to visit us once.

    I'd seen the show once before, but I enjoyed seeing it again.

    I'm only going to say this once, so listen carefully.

    (just) the once (=on one particular occasion only):

    We met just the once, but I still remember him very clearly.

  2. 2
    used for saying that a particular situation existed at a time in the past, but it does not exist any longer

    Did you know that Dan was once a policeman?

    Louise bought the house where her grandparents had once lived.

    The once mighty US car industry was now facing strong competition from abroad.

    1. a.
      used for saying that something happened at some time in the past

      Once we drove all the way to Edinburgh with four little kids in the back seat.

      I once taught myself to knit, and I was pretty good at it.

  3. 3
    used for saying that as soon as one thing happens, something else happens

    Once we were through the gates, she went off and left me on my own.

    I'm sure you'll be very happy here once you get to know everyone.

phrases

Word of the Day

stargazer

someone who studies the stars

Blog

A must for anyone with an interest in the changing face of language. The Macmillan Dictionary blog explores English as it is spoken around the world today.

global English and language change from our blog