Brit. /ˈɒf(ə)n/ , /ˈɒft(ə)n/ , U.S. /ˈɔf(ə)n/ , /ˈɑft(ə)n/
Forms: ME offen, ME offtyn, ME oftin, ME ofton, ME oftun, ME oftyn, ME oftyne, ME ouften, ME– often, 15 hofen, 15 hoften, 15 offten, 19– affin (Irish English), 19– aften (Irish English); Sc. pre-17 ofen, pre-17 oftin, pre-17 17– aften, pre-17 17– often, 18 af’en, 18– affen. Comparative ME oftynar, ME oftynner, ME– oftener, 16 ofner, 16–17 oftner, 17 offner, 17 off’ner; also Sc. pre-17 oftner, pre-17 oiftner, pre-17 17– aftener, 19– af’ner. Superlative 15 oftnest, 15 oftneste, 16– oftenest, 17 oft’nest; also Sc. 19– aftenest. (Show Less)
Etymology: < ofte, variant of oft adv. + -(e)n, probably after selden, variant of seldom adv. and adj.
Often is less commonly used than oft until the 16th cent. Several orthoepists of the 16th and 17th centuries, including Hart, Bullokar, Robinson, Gil, and Hodges, give a pronunciation with medial -t-. Others, including Coles, Young, Strong, and Brown, record a pronunciation without -t-, which, despite its use in the 16th cent. by Elizabeth I, seems to have been avoided by careful speakers in the 17th cent. (see E. J. Dobson Eng. Pronunc. 1500–1700 (ed. 2, 1968) II. §405). Loss of t after f occurs in other cases; compare soften v., and also raft n.1, haft n.1, etc. The pronunciation with -t- has frequently been considered to be hypercorrection in recent times: see for example H. W. Fowler Mod. Eng. Usage (1926), s.v.