I'm not a native English speaker.

If at all possible I try to use spell checkers while writing anything on the web hence using one in Firefox as well. Whenever I try to write "seldomly" it highlights it as incorrect.

Is it really?


This particular word is seldomly used.

  • 1
    Just for perspective, I am a native speaker of English, and I can remember the incident where I first came across the word 'seldom' (I was about 11 years old reading some Charlie Brown comic). I think that was the last time, too (maybe once in Jane Austen or some translation of Dostoyevsky). English speakers (at least AmE) hardly ever use that word.
    – Mitch
    Apr 5 '11 at 2:19
  • 3
    I seldom use "seldomly". (And when I do, it's quite seldom, I assure you.) Apr 5 '11 at 6:08
  • 9
    "Seldom" is a perfectly normal part of my (BrE) vocabulary. "Seldomly" is not.
    – Colin Fine
    Apr 5 '11 at 9:43
  • 1
    Native English speakers will seldom use seldomly.
    – user44324
    May 16 '13 at 0:19
  • 3
    I'm a native British English speaker and initially the OP's example didn't sound odd to me, but I agree that seldom in his example would have sounded equally acceptable. One could use rarely instead of seldomly if thought preferable.
    – TrevorD
    May 16 '13 at 11:44

Contrary to your (very reasonable) gut feeling, seldom is an adverb, even though it doesn't end in -ly.

  • 21
    And thus, that particular word is seldom used. Apr 4 '11 at 22:12
  • 1
    Wow. It surely sounds strange... is seldom used. ;) But thanks for clearing this up for me. I guess I'll have to obey to those underlined corrections... ;) Apr 4 '11 at 22:20

Teachers will tell you to use seldom, which is an adverb already so doesn't need -ly. But Google Books will tell you people have been using seldomly since the eighteenth century and still use it today — though considerably less than seldom.

So the best advice (in my opinion) is to use seldom. But seldomly is not wrong.

  • 6
    Depends on your definition of "wrong"... but I get your point. Apr 4 '11 at 22:27
  • +1: Thanks for that. I knew I've seen -ly being used before (and not by me). This explains lots. Apr 4 '11 at 22:29
  • 1
    As I understood this answer it's probably grammatically wrong but not colloquially wrong... Apr 4 '11 at 22:32
  • Yes, wrong in terms of 'proper' English (whatever that is these days) but probably acceptable by most. Still, more and more mistakes are becoming 'acceptable so it is definitely best avoided. Go with 'seldom'.
    – Karl
    Apr 5 '11 at 3:14

As already pointed out, the word "seldom" is mainly an adverb, even though it can be used as an adjective in some cases. And although "seldom" may be seldom in every day language, "seldomly" occurs even more seldom.

This stands in contrast to the word "often", which in relation to "seldom" is used very often.

Note that both "seldom" and "often" are adverbs, but that none of them ends in "-ly" which adverbs almost always do otherwise.

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  • 1
    I think the comment comparing to often is telling. I've never been tempted to write oftenly. (However, I ended up on this page having been struck with doubts after typing seldomly into a document)
    – user96913
    Nov 6 '14 at 16:10
  • @user96913 thanks. That's how I will remember to never use seldomly again: seldom is the antonym of often Apr 18 '18 at 7:13

In all honesty,the word 'seldomly' is not acceptable in contemporary British English.Attaching the suffix -ly to 'seldom' to create an adverb,in my scholarly opinion,constitutes a redundancy of the highest order,simply because 'seldom' is already an adverb.

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