How to use
on one occasion only
I've only met her once.
Paul's been to Wexford
(just) the once
Mrs Peterson came in to see Ruth just the once.
once a week/once every three months etc
one time every week etc, as a regular activity or event
Staff meetings take place once a week.
They took separate holidays at least once every two years.
at some time in the past, but not now
Sonya and Ida had once been close friends.
She and her husband had once owned a house like this.
It was sad to see the once-great man looking so frail.
the once-mighty steel industry
in the past, at a time that is not stated
I once ran 21 miles.
Marx once described religion as the 'opium of the people'.
immediately or without delay
Now, go upstairs at once and clean your room!
When I saw him I recognized him at once.
together, at the same time
I can't do two things at once!
Don't all talk at once.
once more/once again
again, after happening several times before
I looked at myself in the mirror once more.
Once again she's refusing to help.
used to say that a situation changes back to its previous state
The crowds had all gone home and the street was quiet once more.
used before you repeat something that you said before
Once again, it must be stressed that the pilot was not to blame.
all at once
if something happens all at once, it happens suddenly when you are not expecting it
All at once there was a loud banging on the door.
together, at the same time
A lot of practical details needed to be attended to all at once.
(every) once in a while
sometimes, although not often
I do get a little anxious once in a while.
I saw her in the shop every once in a while.
never once/not once
used to emphasize that something has never happened
I never once saw him get angry or upset.
Not once did they finish a job properly.
(just) for once
used to say that something unusual happens, especially when you wish it would happen more often
Be honest for once.
Just for once, let me make my own decision.
For once Colin was speechless.
once and for all
if you deal with something once and for all, you deal with it completely and finally
Let's settle this matter once and for all.
used to emphasize your impatience when you ask or say something that you have asked or said many times before
Once and for all, will you switch off that television!
once or twice
a few times
I wrote to him once or twice, but he didn't answer.
(just) this once
used to emphasize that this is the only time you are allowing something, asking for something etc, and it will not happen again
Go on, lend me the car, just this once.
I'll make an exception this once.
once upon a time
at a time in the past that you think was much better than now
Once upon a time you used to be able to leave your front door unlocked.
a long time ago - used at the beginning of children's stories
once in a blue moon
It only happens like this once in a blue moon.
do something once too often
to repeat a bad, stupid, or dangerous action with the result that you get punished or cause trouble for yourself
He tried that trick once too often and in the end they caught him.
once a ..., always a ...
used to say that people stay the same and cannot change the way they behave and think
Once a thief, always a thief.
once is/was enough
used to say that after you have done something one time you do not need or want to do it again
once bitten, twice shy
used to say that people will not do something again if it has been a bad experience
Definition from the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
Advanced Learner's Dictionary.
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