Also found in: Thesaurus, Legal, Acronyms, Idioms, Wikipedia.


a. Alone in kind or class; sole: That's the only pen I have.
b. Having no siblings: an only child.
2. Most suitable of all; superior or excellent: This is the only way to cook a good steak.
1. Without anyone or anything else; alone: We have only two sandwiches left.
a. At the very least: If you would only come home. The story was only too true.
b. And nothing else or more; merely; just: I was only following orders.
3. Exclusively; solely: facts known only to us.
a. In the last analysis or final outcome; inevitably: actions that will only make things worse.
b. With the negative or unfortunate result: received a raise only to be laid off.
a. As recently as: called me only last month.
b. In the immediate past: only just saw them.
1. Were it not that; except that: We would have reached the summit, only the weather got bad.
a. With the restriction that; but: You may go, only be careful.
b. However; and yet: The merchandise is well made, only we can't use it.

[Middle English, from Old English ānlīc : ān, one; see one + -līc, having the form of; see -ly1.]
Usage Note: The adverb only is notorious for its ability to change the meaning of a sentence depending on its placement. Consider the difference in meaning in the following examples: Dictators respect only force; they are not moved by words. Dictators only respect force; they do not worship it. She picked up the phone only when he entered, not before. She only picked up the phone when he entered; she didn't dial the number. The surest way to prevent readers from misinterpreting only is to place it next to the word or words it modifies. Many usage sticklers view this policy as a rule that should always be followed, but in many cases it sounds more natural for only to come earlier in the sentence, and if the preceding context is sufficiently clear, there is scant likelihood of being misunderstood. Thus, the rule requires We can come to an agreement only if everyone is willing to compromise. But it may sound more natural, with slightly different emphasis and with no risk of misunderstanding, to say We can only come to an agreement if everyone is willing to compromise. · The expression one of the only is sometimes called out for being illogical, as only implies singularity but the noun following it is plural in this construction. The Usage Panel is mixed on the subject. In our 2008 survey, 48 percent accepted the sentence He is one of the only hard-working people left around here. Many panelists may object to the use of the word as an adjective to mean "few" instead of "one" (as in That's the only pen I have left). The expression the only two found more favor, despite its apparent illogic, with 62 percent accepting She is one of the only two writers I can relate to. This is probably because of similarity to the adverbial use of only with two, which is well established and familiar (There are only two seats left). See Usage Note at not.


adj (prenominal)
1. the only being single or very few in number: the only men left in town were too old to bear arms.
2. (of a child) having no siblings
3. unique by virtue of being superior to anything else; peerless
4. one and only
a. (adjective) incomparable; unique
b. (as noun) the object of all one's love: you are my one and only.
5. without anyone or anything else being included; alone: you have one choice only; only a genius can do that.
6. merely or just: it's only Henry.
7. no more or no greater than: we met only an hour ago.
8. Irish (intensifier): she was only marvellous; it was only dreadful.
9. used in conditional clauses introduced by if to emphasize the impossibility of the condition ever being fulfilled: if I had only known, this would never have happened.
10. not earlier than; not…until: I only found out yesterday.
11. if only an expression used to introduce a wish, esp one felt to be unrealizable
12. only if never…except when
13. only too
a. (intensifier): he was only too pleased to help.
b. most regrettably (esp in the phrase only too true)
sentence connector
but; however: used to introduce an exception or condition: play outside: only don't go into the street.
[Old English ānlīc, from ān one + -līc -ly2]
Usage: In informal English, only is often used as a sentence connector: I would have phoned you, only I didn't know your number. This use should be avoided in formal writing: I would have phoned you if I'd known your number. In formal speech and writing, only is placed directly before the word or words that it modifies: she could interview only three applicants in the morning. In all but the most formal contexts, however, it is generally regarded as acceptable to put only before the verb: she could only interview three applicants in the morning. Care must be taken not to create ambiguity, esp in written English, in which intonation will not, as it does in speech, help to show to which item in the sentence only applies. A sentence such as she only drinks tea in the afternoon is capable of two interpretations and is therefore better rephrased either as she drinks only tea in the afternoon (i.e. no other drink) or she drinks tea only in the afternoon (i.e. at no other time)


(ˈoʊn li)

1. without others or anything further; alone; solely; exclusively: This information is for your eyes only.
2. no more than; merely; just: only on weekends; If it were only true!
3. as recently as: I read that article only yesterday.
4. in the final outcome or decision: That will only make matters worse.
5. being the single one or the relatively few of the kind; lone; sole: the only seat left.
6. having no sibling or no sibling of the same sex: an only child.
7. but (introducing a single restriction, restraining circumstance, or the like): I would have gone, only you objected.
8. Older Use. except; but: Only for him you would not be here.
only too, very; extremely.
[before 900; Middle English; Old English ānlich, ǣnlich. See one, -ly]
usage: Some usage guides maintain that misunderstanding will arise if the modifier only is not placed immediately before what it modifies. Inserting only in the sentence The doctor examined the children might produce ambiguity in written English. The doctor examined only the children would signify that no one else was examined, whereas The doctor only examined the children could indicate either that the doctor did nothing else or that no one else was examined. In all varieties of speech and writing there has long been a tendency to place only before the verb in a sentence regardless of what it modifies. In spoken English the intended meaning may be conveyed by stressing the construction to which only applies.


Only can be an adjective or an adverb.

1. used as an adjective

You use only in front of a noun or one to say that something is true about one person, thing, or group and not true about anyone or anything else. In front of only you put the or a possessive.

Grace was the only survivor.
I was the only one listening.
'Have you a spare one?' – 'No, it's my only copy unfortunately.'

When only has this meaning, you must use a noun or one after it. You cannot say, for example, 'He was the only to escape'. If you don't want to use a more specific noun, you can use person or thing. You can say, for example, 'He was the only person to escape'.

He was the only person allowed to issue documents of that sort.
It was the only thing they could do.

If you use another adjective or a number, you put only in front of it.

The only English city he enjoyed working in was Manchester.
So I probably have the only three copies of the album in existence.

'Only' is not normally used after an. There is one common exception: if you say that someone is an only child, you mean that they have no brothers or sisters.

As an only child she is accustomed to adult company.
2. used as an adverb

Only is used as an adverb to say that something is the one thing that is done, that happens, or that is relevant in a particular situation, in contrast to all the other things that are not done, do not happen, or are not relevant.

  • If only applies to the subject of a clause, you put it in front of the subject.
Only his close friends knew how much he worried about his daughters.
We believe that only a completely different approach will be effective.
  • If the verb is be, you put only after it.
There is only one train that goes from Denmark to Sweden by night.
  • If the verb is not 'be' and only does not apply to the subject, you usually put it in front of the verb or after the first auxiliary verb, regardless of what it applies to. For example, instead of saying 'I see my brother only at weekends', you usually say 'I only see my brother at weekends'.
Drivers only find serious traffic jams in the city centre.
We could only choose two of them.
New technology will only be introduced by agreement with the unions.
3. used for emphasis

However, if you want to be quite clear or emphatic, you put only immediately in front of the word, word phrase, or clause it applies to.

He played only classical music.
You may borrow only one item at a time.
We film only when something interesting is found.

For extra emphasis, you can put only after the word or word phrase that it applies to.

We insisted on being interviewed by women journalists only.
This strategy was used once only.

In writing and formal speech, you can put only at the beginning of a sentence, followed by the word, phrase, or clause it applies to. After this word, phrase, or clause, you put an auxiliary verb or be followed by the subject of the main clause.

Only here was it safe to prepare and handle hot drinks.
Only then did Ginny realize that she still hadn't phoned her mother.

Another way of emphasizing is to start with 'It is only...' or 'It was only...' and the word or words that you want to emphasize. You put the rest of the sentence in a that-clause.

It was only much later that I realized what had happened.
It was only when he started to take photographs that he was stopped.
4. 'not only'

You use not only with but or but also as a way of linking words or word groups.

ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Adj.1.only - being the only one; single and isolated from others; "the lone doctor in the entire county"; "a lonesome pine"; "an only child"; "the sole heir"; "the sole example"; "a solitary instance of cowardice"; "a solitary speck in the sky"
single - existing alone or consisting of one entity or part or aspect or individual; "upon the hill stood a single tower"; "had but a single thought which was to escape"; "a single survivor"; "a single serving"; "a single lens"; "a single thickness"
2.only - exclusive of anyone or anything elseonly - exclusive of anyone or anything else; "she alone believed him"; "cannot live by bread alone"; "I'll have this car and this car only"
exclusive - excluding much or all; especially all but a particular group or minority; "exclusive clubs"; "an exclusive restaurants and shops"
Adv.1.only - and nothing more; "I was merely asking"; "it is simply a matter of time"; "just a scratch"; "he was only a child"; "hopes that last but a moment"
2.only - without any others being included or involvedonly - without any others being included or involved; "was entirely to blame"; "a school devoted entirely to the needs of problem children"; "he works for Mr. Smith exclusively"; "did it solely for money"; "the burden of proof rests on the prosecution alone"; "a privilege granted only to him"
3.only - with nevertheless the final result; "He arrived only to find his wife dead"; "We won only to lose again in the next round"
4.only - in the final outcome; "These news will only make you more upset"
5.only - except that; "It was the same story; only this time she came out better"
6.only - never except when; "call me only if your cold gets worse"
7.only - as recently as; "I spoke to him only an hour ago"


1. sole, one, single, individual, exclusive, unique, lone, solitary, one and only She was the only applicant for the job.
1. just, simply, purely, merely, no more than, nothing but, but, at most, at a push At the moment it's only a theory.
2. hardly, just, barely, only just, scarcely, at most, at a push I only have enough money for one ticket.
3. exclusively, entirely, purely, solely Computers are only for use by class members.


1. To the exclusion of anyone or anything else:
2. Nothing more than:
فَقَطفَقَطٌفَقَط: تُظْهِر النَّتيجَهلكنليس أبعد من، فَقَط
aîeinsaîeins òú einnbarabara, aîeinseinka-; eini, hinn eini
다만 ...뿐유일한
bet, tikaitikaivēlvienīgaisvienīgi
chỉchỉ thôiduy nhất


A. ADJúnico
your only hope is to hidela única posibilidad que te queda es esconderte
it's the only one leftes el único que queda
"I'm tired" - "you're not the only one!"-estoy cansado -¡no eres el único!
the only thing I don't like about it islo único que no me gusta de esto es ...
see also pebble
1. (= no more than) → sólo, solamente
he's only tensólo or solamente tiene diez años
we only have fivesólo or solamente tenemos cinco
what, only five?¿cómo, cinco nada más?¿cómo, sólo or solamente cinco?
2. (= merely) I'm only the porterno soy más que el portero
I'm only a portersoy un simple portero
I only touched itno hice más que tocarlo
it's only to be expectedcabe de esperar
he raced onto the platform only to find the train pulling outllegó corriendo al andén para encontrarse con que el tren estaba saliendo
you only have to ask, you have only to askno tienes más que pedirlo, sólo tienes que pedirlo
it's only fair to tell himlo mínimo que puedes hacer es decírselo
I was only jokinglo he dicho en broma
that only makes matters worseeso sólo empeora las cosas
I will only say thatdiré solamente que ..., sólo diré que ...
I only wish he were here nowojalá estuviese ahora aquí
3. (= exclusively) → sólo
a ticket for one person onlyun billete para una persona sólo
"members only"sólo socios
God only knows!¡Dios sabe!
only time will tellsólo el tiempo puede decirlo
a women-only therapy groupun grupo de terapia sólo para mujeres
4. (= not until) I've only recently met himhace poco que lo conocí
5. (= no longer ago than) I saw her only yesterdayayer mismo la vi, la vi ayer nomás (LAm), recién ayer la vi (LAm)
it seems like only yesterday thatparece que fue ayer cuando ...
6. (in phrases)
only just the hole was only just big enoughel agujero era lo justo
I've only just arrivedacabo de llegar ahora mismo, no he hecho más que llegar
it fits him, but only justle cabe pero le queda muy justo
not only ... but also not only was he late but he also forgot the ticketsno sólo llegó tarde sino que además olvidó las entradas
a machine that is not only efficient but looks good as welluna máquina que no sólo es eficaz sino también atractiva
only too I'd be only too pleased to helpestaría encantado de or me encantaría poder ayudar(les)
it is only too truepor desgracia es verdad or cierto
I knew only too well what would happensabía demasiado bien lo que iba a pasar
see also if A5
C. CONJsólo que, pero
it's a bit like my house, only niceres un poco como mi casa, sólo que or pero más bonita
I would gladly do it, only I shall be awaylo haría de buena gana, sólo que or pero voy a estar fuera
D. CPD only child Nhijo/a m/f único/a
see also one A3


Monday is the only day I'm free → Lundi est le seul jour où je suis libre.
French is the only subject I like → Le français est la seule matière que j'aime.
the only one (= person) → le seul or la seule
I was the only one smoking → J'étais le seul à fumer.
the only one of us → le seul d'entre nous (= thing) → le seul or la seule
(= just) (with number)seulement
How much was it? - Only 10 euros → Combien c'était? - Seulement dix euros.
I only took one
BUT Je n'en ai pris qu'un.
these are only some of ... → ce ne sont que quelques uns des ...
not only → non seulement
not only ... but ... → non seulement ... mais ...
(in verb clauses)ne ... que
We only want to stay for one night → Nous ne voulons rester qu'une nuit.
These cassettes are only 5 euros → Ces cassettes ne coûtent que cinq euros.
He's only a boy → Ce n'est qu'un enfant.
I was only joking → je plaisantais
(= exclusively) → ne ... que
He read only paperbacks → Il ne lit que des livres de poche.
only if → seulement si
(recent time)
I saw her only last week → Je l'ai vue pas plus tard que la semaine dernière.
I saw her only yesterday → Je l'ai vue pas plus tard qu'hier.
I remember it as if it was only yesterday → Je m'en souviens comme si c'était hier.
only just (= very recently) → tout juste
I've only just arrived → Je viens tout juste d'arriver.
only just (= barely) → tout juste
Farmers have only just managed to survive → Les agriculteurs ont tout juste réussi à survivre.
(= very) to be only too pleased → n'être que trop content
I'd be only too pleased to help → Je ne serais que trop content de vous aider.
only too well
I know only too well → Je ne sais que trop bien ...
it's only too easy to ... → il n'est que trop facile de ...
it's only fair
It's only fair to keep her informed → Ce n'est que justice de la tenir informée.
it's only natural
It's only natural that she should be upset → C'est bien naturel qu'elle ait de la peine.
(= it's just that) → seulement
I would come, only I'm very busy → Je viendrais bien, seulement j'ai beaucoup à faire.
I meant to tell you, only I forgot → Je voulais vous le dire, seulement j'ai oublié.
(= but) → mais
I'd like the same sweater, only in black → Je voudrais le même pull, mais en noir.
Snake meat is like chicken, only tougher → La viande de serpent est comme le poulet, mais en plus dur.
(but were/was)
We asked for her autograph only to be ignored → Nous lui avons demandé son autographe seulement pour nous voir ignorés.only child nenfant mf uniqueon-message [ˌɒnˈmɛsɪdʒ] adj [politician] → fidèle à la ligne du parti


adj attreinzige(r, s); he’s an/my only childer ist ein Einzelkind nt/mein einziges Kind; the only one or personder/die Einzige; the only ones or peopledie Einzigen; he was the only one to leave or who lefter ist als Einziger gegangen; the only thingdas Einzige; the only thing I could suggest would be to invite him tooich könnte höchstens vorschlagen, dass wir etc ihn auch einladen; that’s the only thing for it/the only thing to dodas ist die einzige Möglichkeit; the only thing I have against it is that …ich habe nur eins dagegen einzuwenden, nämlich, dass …; the only thing or problem is …nur …; the only thing is (that) it’s too latees ist bloß or nur schon zu spät; my only wish/regretdas einzige, was ich mir wünsche/was ich bedaure; the only real problemdas einzig wirkliche Problem; her only answer was a grin or to grinihre Antwort bestand nur aus einem Grinsen ? one ADJ d
nur; it’s only five o’clockes ist erst fünf Uhr; only yesterday/last weekerst gestern/letzte Woche; she’s only youngsie ist noch jung; I only hope he gets here in timeich hoffe nur, dass es noch rechtzeitig hier eintrifft; I only wanted to be with youich wollte nur mit dir zusammen sein; you only have to askSie brauchen nur zu fragen; I wanted only to be with you (esp liter)ich wollte weiter nichts, als mit dir zusammen zu sein; “members only„(Zutritt) nur für Mitglieder; only think of it!stellen Sie sich das nur (mal) vor!; only to think of it made him illder bloße Gedanke or schon der Gedanke daran machte ihn krank
(in constructions) only too true/easy etcnur (all)zu wahr/leicht etc; I’d be only too pleased to helpich würde nur zu gerne helfen; if only that hadn’t happenedwenn das bloß or nur nicht passiert wäre; we only just caught the trainwir haben den Zug gerade noch gekriegt; he has only just arriveder ist gerade erst angekommen; I’ve only just got enoughich habe gerade genug; not only … but also …nicht nur …, sondern auch …
conjbloß, nur; I would do it myself, only I haven’t timeich würde es selbst machen, ich habe bloß or nur keine Zeit; she looks like me, only tallersie sieht aus wie ich, nur dass sie etwas größer ist


1. adjsolo/a, unico/a
it's the only one left → è l'unico rimasto
your only hope is to hide → la tua unica speranza sta nel nasconderti
you are the only one who can help us → sei l'unico che possa or che può aiutarci
you are not the only one → non sei l'unico
an only child → un(a) figlio/a unico/a
the only thing I don't like about it is ... → l'unica cosa che non mi va è...
2. advsolo, soltanto, solamente
we have only five → ne abbiamo solo cinque
only one choice → una sola possibilità, un'unica scelta
only time will tell → chi vivrà vedrà
I'm only the porter → io sono solo il portinaio
I only touched it → l'ho soltanto toccato
I only took one → ne ho preso soltanto uno
only when I ... → solo quando io...
not only A but also B → non solo A ma anche B
I saw her only yesterday → l'ho vista appena ieri
we can only hope → non possiamo far altro che sperare
I'd be only too pleased to help → sarei proprio felice di essere d'aiuto
it's only too true → è proprio vero
3. conjsolo che, ma (purtroppo)
I would come, only I'm very busy → verrei volentieri, solo che sono molto occupato


(ˈəunli) adjective
without any others of the same type. He has no brothers or sisters – he's an only child; the only book of its kind.
1. not more than. We have only two cups left; He lives only a mile away.
2. alone. Only you can do it.
3. showing the one action done, in contrast to other possibilities. I only scolded the child – I did not smack him.
4. not longer ago than. I saw him only yesterday.
5. showing the one possible result of an action. If you do that, you'll only make him angry.
except that, but. I'd like to go, only I have to work.
only too
very. I'll be only too pleased to come.


فَقَطٌ, وَحِيد, وَحِيدٌ jediný, jen ene-, eneste, kun einzig, einziger, nur μοναδικός, μόνο, μόνος solo, sólo, único ainoa, vain seul, seulement, unique jedini, samo solamente, solo, unico ただ一人の, 単に, 唯一の 다만 ...뿐, 유일한 enig, slechts bare, ene jedynak, jedyny, tylko somente, único единственный, только bara, enda เท่านั้น, เพียงเท่านั้น, เพียงคนเดียว tek, yalnızca chỉ, duy nhất 仅仅, 唯一的


a. único-a, solo-a;
adv. sólo, solamente.


adj solo, único; progestin-only de progestina sola; adv sólo, solamente; Take this only for severe pain..Tome esto sólo (solamente) para dolor severo