Dictionary > English Dictionary > Definition, synonym and antonym of only
Meaning of only by Wiktionary Dictionary


    Alternative forms


    Old English ǣnlīċ, from Germanic; corresponding to one + -ly/-like. Cognate with Swedish enlig ( “unified” ), and obsolete Dutch eenlijk .


    • ( UK ) IPA: /ˈəʊn.li/, X-SAMPA: /"@Un.li/
    • ( US ) IPA: /ˈoʊn.li/, X-SAMPA: /"oUn.li/
    • Hyphenation: on‧ly


    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 .
    2. Singularly superior; the best .
      He is the only trombonist to recruit .
    3. Without sibling; without a sibling of the same gender .
      He is their only son, in fact, an only child
    4. ( obsolete ) Mere.


    Derived terms


    only ( not comparable )

    1. without others or anything further; exclusively
      my heart is hers, and hers only
    2. no more than; just
      if there were only one more ticket!
    3. as recently as
      he left only moments ago

    Derived terms



    1. Under the condition that; but .
    2. However .
      I would enjoy running, only I have this broken leg
    3. But for the fact that; except .

    Related terms



Explanation of only by Wordnet Dictionary


    1. and nothing more

    2. he was only a child
    3. without any others being included or involved

    4. a privilege granted only to him
    5. with nevertheless the final result

    6. He arrived only to find his wife dead
      We won only to lose again in the next round
    7. in the final outcome

    8. These news will only make you more upset
    9. as recently as

    10. I spoke to him only an hour ago
    11. except that

    12. It was the same story; only this time she came out better
    13. never except when

    14. call me only if your cold gets worse
    1. exclusive of anyone or anything else

    2. I'll have this car and this car only
    3. being the only one

    4. an only child

    Definition of only by GCIDE Dictionary


    1. Only a. [OE. only, anly, onlich, AS. ānlic, i.e., onelike. See One, and Like, a.]
      1. One alone; single; as, “the only man present; his only occupation.”

      2. Alone in its class; by itself; not associated with others of the same class or kind; as, “an only child”.

      3. Hence, ( figuratively ): Alone, by reason of superiority; preeminent; chief. “Motley's the only wear.” Shak.

    2. Only adv. [See Only, a.]
      1. In one manner or degree; for one purpose alone; simply; merely; barely.

      And to be loved himself, needs only to be known. Dryden.

      2. So and no otherwise; no other than; exclusively; solely; wholly. “She being only wicked.” Beau. & Fl.

      Every imagination . . . of his heart was only evil. Gen. vi. 5.

      3. Singly; without more; as, “only-begotten”.

      4. Above all others; particularly. [Obs.]

      His most only elected mistress. Marston.

    3. Only, conj. Save or except ( that ); -- an adversative used elliptically with or without that, and properly introducing a single fact or consideration.

      He might have seemed some secretary or clerk . . . only that his low, flat, unadorned cap . . . indicated that he belonged to the city. Sir W. Scott.