I have this list of choices:

Daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, once

The last one "once" is used to indicate thing that occurs only one time.

I wanted to keep up with pattern of the first four words. Is "once" the right word?

  • 1
    I'd probably write "once in a lifetime", though that works better in a less overly formal context. – Maroon Apr 28 '15 at 10:13
  • 2
    'Once' is ambiguous (Once, I used to drink Benedictine: the 'at one time' sense). 'Only once', 'once only', 'on a single occasion' ... disambiguate (though the 'a single time' is 'quite' obvious here) and are adverbial like 'daily'.... – Edwin Ashworth Apr 28 '15 at 10:23
  • "One-off" would also work, or "Not repeated". – Phil M Jones Apr 28 '15 at 10:49
  • 1
    If this is, say, a list of options in a computer application for calendar scheduling, then "once" is perfectly fine. The other term that might be used is "not repeating". – Hot Licks Apr 28 '15 at 11:52
  • 1
    One-shot, non-recurring... – Marv Mills Apr 28 '15 at 13:32

The xxxly pattern is semantically a short form for once every xxx. It means therefore that the event will by definition occur more than one time!

If something occurs only one time, and you want to keep the xxxly pattern, you would have to answer the question during which period of time this thing only occured one time, but whatever time period you choose, you would imply that the event will repeat itself.

So even if you say, as suggested in a comment, once in a lifetime, it means that the event would occur again in another lifetime (whenever that may be), so it is a repeating event.

I suggest you stick with once to indicate that an event occurs one time and that it does not repeat.

If it does repeat, but not very often, you could go with rarely or seldomly.


If you are filling a drop-down, once is correct. There is no ambiguity.

The operative word, that defines the context, which gives the issue meaning, is the implied label:

  • Repeated: or

  • Frequency:

Which is followed by a list of words. There is no requirement to fulfil a pattern (unless you are laying tiles in the kitchen).

You could use NotRepeated or Not-repeated. I wouldn't call that disambiguation, but it does improve the meaning, the context.

protected by tchrist May 3 '16 at 17:08

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