Meaning of ONLY in English

/ohn"lee/ , adv.

1. without others or anything further; alone; solely; exclusively: This information is for your eyes only.

2. no more than; merely; just: If it were only true! I cook only on weekends.

3. as recently as: I read that article only yesterday.

4. in the final outcome or decision: You will only regret your harsh words to me.

5. only too ,

a. as a matter of fact; extremely: I am only too glad to go.

b. unfortunately; very: It is only too likely to happen.


6. being the single one or the relatively few of the kind: This is the only pencil I can find.

7. having no sibling or no sibling of the same sex: an only child; an only son.

8. single in superiority or distinction; unique; the best: the one and only Muhammad Ali.


9. but (introducing a single restriction, restraining circumstance, or the like): I would have gone, only you objected.

10. Older Use. except; but: Only for him you would not be here.

[ bef. 900; ME; OE anlich, aenlich. See ONE, -LY ]

Syn. 6. solitary, lone. 8. peerless; exclusive.

Ant. 6. plentiful, common.

Usage . The placement of ONLY as a modifier is more a matter of style and clarity than of grammatical rule. In a sentence like The doctor examined the children, varying the placement of ONLY results in quite different meanings: The doctor only examined the children means that the doctor did nothing else. And The doctor examined only the children means that no one else was examined. Especially in formal writing, the placement of ONLY immediately before what it modifies is often observed: She sold the stock only because she needed the money. However, there has long been a tendency in all varieties of speech and writing to place ONLY before the verb ( She only sold the stock because she needed the money ), and such placement is rarely confusing.

Random House Webster's Unabridged English dictionary.      Полный английский словарь Вебстер - Random House .