It feels like "seldomly" could be a very useful word.

For instance, I often get the urge to say "It is seldomly discussed that the world is a messed up place". "seldomly" here would mean something akin to rarely.

Can someone elucidate as to why we seldomly talk about why "seldomly" isn't used [Edited]?

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    Did you look seldomly up in a dictionary to establish that it isn't a word?
    – Mick
    Commented Mar 26, 2017 at 4:19
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    Seldom is almost always employed as an adverb, so it doesn't need the -ly suffix. Commented Mar 26, 2017 at 4:24
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is based on the false assumption that seldomly is not a word. Commented Mar 26, 2017 at 7:19
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    I'm learning as lot from this discussion. I did a Sketch Engine search of the ENtenten 2013 corpus and found 733 occurrences of "seldomly," but 172,222 occurrences of "seldom." So while you're right that it is a mistake to claim that the word does not exist, it seems to be a worthwhile topic for consideration. What about @Sheppy editing the question?
    – Kevin Mark
    Commented Mar 26, 2017 at 7:41
  • @Sheppy Would you like to rephrase your question along these lines: Why is "seldomly" not a widely accepted word? In my opinion edits are needed in the question (title) itself and in the main body.
    – Kevin Mark
    Commented Mar 26, 2017 at 8:28

2 Answers 2


As @Mick points out, seldomly can be found in some dictionaries.

However, I have not found any in those advanced learner dictionaries of contemporary English that I have checked.

The Collins dictionary offers a contradictory picture, saying on the one hand that it is obsolete while on the other showing a graph indicating that it may be coming back into use (note that in recent years the line goes up and down).

A search for seldom of the massive EnTenTen 2013 web corpus in Sketch Engine yields 172,000 or so occurrences, compared to 733 cases of seldomly. In my judgement, while comparatively infrequent, seldomly cannot therefore be said to be "unacceptable." However, because it is relatively rare and recent it is likely to invite criticism or even total disapproval from many quarters.


The fact that the antonym often does not have an -ly form has no doubt contributed to the erstwhile and partial abandonment of seldomly.

The synonyms rarely and frequently have the corresponding adjectival forms rare and frequent, so the -ly suffix is necessary to distinguish them from each other.

In the case of seldom and often there are no corresponding adjectival forms, a fact which renders an -ly form redundant. I have been assuming that when a language form is redundant it is likely to fall into disuse, but this assumption seems to be challenged somewhat by the tenuous re-emergence of seldomly.

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    "Fast" is an adjective and adverb. Why isn't there an adverb "fastly", in accordance with your reasoning? Commented Mar 26, 2017 at 5:30
  • @ mahmud koya Good point! Why don't you post this as a separate question? I don't think it invalidates my answer to this question, though.
    – Kevin Mark
    Commented Mar 26, 2017 at 5:36
  • @ mahmud koya Just a thought: "fast" is very common and is often used with adverbs or adverbial phrases. "very," "extremely," "unbelievably," "as fast as a rocket." The frequency of its association with adverbials may have contributed to the demise of "fastly," and the now established adverbial use of "fast" could be seen as due to a tendency to abbreviate the adverbs and adverbial phrases with which it is associated.
    – Kevin Mark
    Commented Mar 26, 2017 at 5:46
  • @ Kevin Mark Yes, your thought is good and sounds sensible. But, 'fast' is more often seen associated with 'very' and both are without -ly suffix! The -ly suffix doesn't seem to be a particle for the adverb construction. Words like 'ugly' friendly etc. are adjective and adverb in Modern English. See even 'uglily', friendlily etc. are also seen as adverbs in some dictionaries. The word 'worldly' with the -ly suffix is an adjective! Commented Mar 26, 2017 at 6:10
  • @ mahmud koya Thanks for your thoughts. But "very" is , I think, associated with Middle English "verily"... You're very good at coming up with interesting examples. "worldly seems to come from Old English woruldlic, from the roots of world and like (adj.) dictionary.com/browse/worldly?s=t
    – Kevin Mark
    Commented Mar 26, 2017 at 6:42

Interesting observation. Both "seldom" and "seldomly" are adverbs. It is rarely used now-a-days because of this reason - it duplicates the meaning of seldom.

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