I don't know the meaning of the phrase in this sentence

We are seldom exposed only to a single contaminant in the environment-but more often than not to a cocktail of chemical mixture.

How to understand 'more often than not'?

  • 1
    Multiple chemical exposure happens more times than single chemical exposure.
    – deadrat
    Apr 28, 2016 at 5:30
  • 1
    The sentence is asserting that exposures to multiple chemicals at a time occur more frequently than exposures to single chemicals. Oct 26, 2016 at 4:14
  • 1
    More often than not is a fixed phrase, an idiom. It just means 'often'. That's all. Feb 18, 2018 at 20:53

2 Answers 2


"More often than not" describes a degree of probability which is greater than 50%.

  • As Richard Kayser has already said. // It probably does describe an observed relative frequency, which would be used to work out the empirical probability. Or it may even be a loose expression not meaning anything more specific than 'often'. All this has already been said. Mar 21, 2018 at 0:58

I would think of this phrase by rephrasing and making it a sentence like, "There are more often times when we are exposed to a cocktail of chemical mixture than the times when we are not exposed to one. More often than not=as often as not=usually. Hope this helps...

  • It is unclear whether the intent is to imply that during more than 50% of your existence you are exposed to a "cocktail", or that more than 50% of the time that you're exposed to contaminants it's a "cocktail" rather than a single chemical.
    – Hot Licks
    Apr 9, 2020 at 16:15

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