Almost Never: Definition, Meaning, and Origin

Last Updated on
July 12, 2023

The idiom "almost never" is used to describe something that hardly ever happens or is very rare. It's like saying something is close to never happening, but there might be that one-off chance or a super rare occasion when it does.

In short:

"Almost never" describes an event or action that seldom occurs or is extremely infrequent.

What Does "Almost Never" Mean?

"Almost never" is a handy English idiom that signals something hardly happens or is very unlikely to happen. It's like saying the odds are slim, but there’s a tiny chance it could happen.

Let's break it down:

  • "Almost never" means something is close to zilch, like your chances of winning the lottery or seeing a unicorn.
  • It's used when you want to tell someone not to get their hopes up because it’s rare.
  • From a chill conversation with friends to serious talk in a business meeting, "almost never" fits in everywhere to say, “Don’t count on it!”

Where Does "Almost Never" Come From?

The phrase "almost never" is pretty straightforward and combines the words "almost," meaning nearly, and "never," meaning not ever. It's been used for a long time in English to mean something is very unlikely to happen. It's like saying it could happen, but don’t bet your last penny on it.

Historical Examples

"When, therefore, we meet with a man or woman who almost never disappoints us."

- The Mother's Treasury, 1723

"Nearly one-half of physicians (46%) report that they almost never withhold information about diagnosis and prognosis from a patient."

- Making Health Care Decisions, 1982

10 Examples of "Almost Never" in Sentences

Here are some examples of the idiom in action:

  • He almost never eats breakfast, but today he made an exception.
  • Until then, I almost never realized how crucial your presence was in my life.
  • I almost never watch movies, but I made an exception for the latest superhero flick.
  • Even though he is a bit of a goob, he almost never misses a chance to lighten the mood with his goofy antics.
  • I'm almost never rude, but it's nunya business!
  • She almost never forgets her keys, but today was one of those days.
  • Facing the fork in the road, she almost never chose the path less traveled.
  • Almost never will you find such a great deal on these gadgets.
  • As proud as Punch, the coach almost never praised the team openly to maintain their motivation.
  • Despite the common belief that a mother knows best, she almost never felt confident in her parenting decisions.

Examples of "Almost Never" in Pop Culture

The phrase "almost never" is quite common in pop culture, often used to emphasize the rarity or infrequency of an event.

Let's check out some examples:

  • "Almost Never" is a British television series broadcast on CBBC. The series features fictional bands and their appearances in reality shows.
  • "We are very scattered today. This type of thing almost never happens" is a line from the comedy film Death at a Funeral (2010).
  • "This is weird, man. I've hacked many computers in this job but almost never a friend's," a line from the TV series NCIS: New Orleans (2014-2021).
  • "Almost Never Did" is a 2017 song by the fictional band "The Wonderland" from the TV series "Almost Never."

Other/Different Ways to Say "Almost Never"

There are various other expressions that convey a similar meaning to "almost never."

Here are some of them:

  • Hardly ever
  • Rarely
  • Seldom
  • Infrequently
  • Scarcely
  • Barely
  • Once in a blue moon
  • Not often
  • On rare occasions
  • Few and far between

10 Frequently Asked Questions About "Almost Never":

  • What does "almost never" mean?

"Almost never" refers to something that hardly ever happens or is extremely unlikely to occur.

  • How can I use "almost never" in a sentence?

You can use "almost never" to indicate a very rare event or action. For example, "I almost never eat junk food, but I had a burger yesterday."

  • Where does the idiom "almost never" come from?

The phrase "almost never" combines "almost" meaning nearly, and "never" meaning not ever, used in English to convey an event or action is very, very unlikely.

  • Can "almost never" be used to describe a positive situation?

Yes, it can. "Almost never" just expresses frequency and can be used in any context. For example, "She almost never loses a tennis match."

  • Does "almost never" imply a zero chance?

No, "almost never" implies that there is a very small chance of something happening, but it’s not impossible.

  • Can I use "almost never" to describe regular events?

Not really. "Almost never" is typically used to describe events or actions that seldom occur or are unlikely to happen.

  • Does "almost never" mean the same as "rarely"?

"Almost never" and "rarely" are similar but not exactly the same. "Almost never" implies something happens less frequently than "rarely".

  • Can "almost never" be used in formal writing?

Yes, "almost never" can be used in both informal and formal writing to indicate the rarity of an event or action.

  • What's another way to say "almost never"?

Other ways to say "almost never" could be "seldom", "hardly ever", or "rarely".

  • Is "almost never" a negative expression?

Not necessarily. "Almost never" just describes the frequency of something and can be used in both positive and negative contexts.

Final Thoughts About "Almost Never"

The phrase "almost never" is a handy way to express the rarity of an event or action. Whether you're describing a rare bird sighting or your friend's unusual breakfast choice, "almost never" communicates the infrequency.

Let's wrap it up:

  • "Almost never" is all about saying something is super unlikely or happens very infrequently.
  • It's versatile and can be used in any chat, formal or informal.
  • "Almost never" doesn't mean zero chance. It’s like saying, "Well, there’s a teeny tiny chance."

This phrase shows that language has a fun way of expressing even the most unlikely events. After all, when you say something "almost never" happens, there's still that glimmer of a possibility, no matter how small.

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