Definition of only adverb from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//ˈəʊnli//
    ; NAmE NAmE//ˈoʊnli//
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  1. 1  nobody or nothing except There are only a limited number of tickets available. The bar is for members only. You only have to look at her to see she doesn't eat enough. Only five people turned up.
  2. 2  in no other situation, place, etc. I agreed, but only because I was frightened. Children are admitted only if accompanied by an adult. In formal written English only (or only if and its clause) can be placed first in the sentence. In the second part of the sentence, be, do, have, etc. come before the subject and the main part of the verbOnly in Paris do you find bars like this.Only if these conditions are fulfilled can the application proceed to the next stage.
  3. 3  no more important, interesting, serious, etc. than It was only a suggestion. Don't blame me, I'm only the messenger! He was only teasing you.
  4. 4  no more than; no longer than She's only 21 and she runs her own business. It only took a few seconds. It took only a few seconds.
  5. 5  not until We only got here yesterday. (formal) Only then did she realize the stress he was under. When only begins a sentence be, do, have, etc. come before the subject and the main part of the verb.
  6. 6  used to say that somebody can do no more than what is mentioned, although this is probably not enough We can only guess what happened. He could only watch helplessly as the car plunged into the ravine. I only hope that she never finds out.
  7. 7  used to say that something will have a bad effect If you do that, it will only make matters worse. Trying to reason with him only enrages him even more.
  8. 8only to do something used to mention something that happens immediately afterwards, especially something that causes surprise, disappointment, etc. She turned up the driveway, only to find her way blocked.
  9. Word OriginOld English ānlic (adjective) (see one, -ly).Idioms  used to say that you wish something was true or that something had happened If only I were rich. If only I knew her name. If only he'd remembered to send that letter. If only I had gone by taxi.
    not only… but (also)…
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     both… and… He not only read the book, but also remembered what he had read. Language BankadditionAdding another item Bilingual children do better in IQ tests than children who speak only one language. In addition/What is more, they seem to find it easier to learn third or even fourth languages. Learning another language not only improves children’s job prospects in later life, but also boosts their self-esteem. Teaching children a second language improves their job prospects in later life. Other benefits include increased self-esteem and greater tolerance of other cultures. Another/One further/One additional reason for encouraging bilingual education is that it boosts children’s self-esteem. Studies suggest that bilingual children find it easier to learn additional languages. There is, moreover, increasing evidence that bilingual children perform better across a range of school subjects, not just foreign languages. His claim that children find bilingual education confusing is based on very little evidence. Moreover, the evidence he does provide is seriously flawed. Research has shown that first-language development is not impeded by exposure to a second language. Furthermore, there is no evidence to support the claim that children find bilingual education confusing.
    only have eyes for/have eyes only for somebody
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    to be in love with only one particular person He's only ever had eyes for his wife.
    1. 1not long ago/before We've only just arrived.
    2. 2almost not He only just caught the train. I can afford it, but only just.
    very I was only too pleased to help. Children can be difficult as we know only too well.
    you’re only young once
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    (saying) young people should enjoy themselves as much as possible, because they will have to work and worry later in their lives
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: only