How to use
not more than a particular number, age etc
Naomi was only 17 when she got married.
There are only a few cars on the island.
It's only eight o'clock.
used to say that something or someone is not very important, serious etc
It was only a joke.
It's an interesting job, but it's only temporary.
They're only small cuts, nothing life-threatening.
nothing or no one except a particular person or thing
Only the president can authorize a nuclear attack.
We use only the best ingredients.
women/men/residents etc only
The car park is for staff only.
used to say that something happens or is possible in one particular situation or place and no others, or for one particular reason
I'll tell you, but
you don't tell anyone else.
I ate the food, but
I was starving.
The transfer takes place
the data is complete.
no earlier than a particular time
only yesterday/last week/recently
'When did you e-mail her?' 'Only yesterday.'
only then did/would/could etc somebody do something
at that moment and not before
Only then did she tell him about the attack.
a very short time ago ago
She's only just got up.
I only just finished my essay in time.
can only hope/wait etc
used to say that it is not possible to do more than hope etc
We can only hope it won't rain on the day.
I can only think/suppose/assume (that)
used when you are giving a reason for something, to say that you do not know something for certain but think that this is the only possible reason
I can only assume that it was a mistake.
I only wish/hope
used to express a strong wish or hope
'What's happening?' 'I only wish I knew.'
used to express a strong wish
If only he'd call!
used to tell someone that what they want to do will have a bad effect
Don't interfere - you'll only make things worse.
you only have to read/look at/listen to etc something
used to say that it is easy to know that something is true because you can see or hear things that prove it
You only have to look at the statistics to see that things are getting worse.
used to say that someone did something, with a disappointing or surprising result
I arrived only to find that the others had already left.
Prices have risen sharply, as we know only too well.
Mark was only too happy to agree with her.
➔ not only ... but (also)
; ➔ only have eyes for somebody
; ➔ for somebody's eyes only
Definition from the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
Advanced Learner's Dictionary.
Dictionary results for "only"
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