Cambridge Dictionaries online Cambridge Dictionaries online

The most popular online dictionary and thesaurus for learners of English


English definition of “only”


adverb (NOT MORE)    /ˈəʊ US  /ˈoʊn-/
A1 used to show that something is limited to not more than, or is not anything other than, the people , things, amount , or activity stated : At present these televisions are only available in Japan. Only Sue and Mark bothered to turn up for the meeting . This club is for members only. Only an idiot would do that. These shoes only cost £20. Don't worry - it's only a scratch . I was only joking . I was only trying to help . I only arrived half an hour ago. She spoke to me only a few minutes ago on the phone . It's only four o'clock and it's already getting dark . "Who's there?" "It's only me (= it is not someone you should worry about). I've locked myself out." It's only natural that you should worry about your children .Single, double and multiple Grammar:Not only … but alsoWe use not only X but also Y in formal contexts:Grammar:OnlyOnly is an adjective or adverb.Grammar:Only as an adjectiveWe use only as an adjective to mean that there is just one or very few of something, or that there are no others:Grammar:Only as an adverbWe use only as an adverb to mean that something is limited to some people, things, an amount or an activity:Grammar:Only: positionAs an adjective, we use only in front of a noun or one, or before another adjective or a number:
(Definition of only adverb (NOT MORE) from the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)
Focus on the pronunciation of only

Definitions of “only” in other dictionaries

Word of the Day


to pour liquid slowly over something, especially in a thin line or in small drops

Word of the Day


Read our blog about how the English language behaves.

Learn More

New Words

Find words and meanings that have just started to be used in English, and let us know what you think of them.

Learn More