I would like to know the difference between seldom and rarely, Here are some examples:

I seldom play chess.

I rarely play chess.

Which ones I've to use and when?

  • They are synonymous, which means that they are roughly the same, but not in all cases can you use these words interchangeably. But they have the same meaning, more or less. – Varun Nair Aug 30 '16 at 10:25
  • I know, I think "seldom" and "rarely" are like "good","fine" and "nice". Its are synonymous but you can't use "Fine shoes" (It's an example) – Mattew Aug 30 '16 at 10:27
  • Well, you cannot say "you can't use terms like 'Fine shoes'". It may not be used as extensively as 'nice shoes', but it's not wrong. – Varun Nair Aug 30 '16 at 10:33
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    Why can't you use "fine shoes"? "Those are some very fine shoes indeed" sounds perfectly normal to me. – stangdon Aug 30 '16 at 12:13
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    @Lawrence - To the observer, "Nice shoes" connotes appearance. To the wearer, "Nice shoes" could be talking about comfort. – J.R. Aug 30 '16 at 15:01

I don't know of any example where I would interpret "seldom" and "rarely" differently.

I know "good", "fine", and "nice" sometimes have different meaning based on context. But "seldom" and "rarely", I can't find any difference.

  • 2
    Unless you provide detailed explanations with evidence, this post should really be a comment. – Em. Aug 30 '16 at 15:01
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    @Max - I have no problem with this answer. While it's true we generally like answers to be substantiated, not every question needs research and a treatise. I've read this answer three times and, concerning the O.P.'s question, it conveys my sentiments exactly. Rarely do synonyms behave so interchangeably, but these two pretty much do. – J.R. Aug 30 '16 at 15:31
  • Seldom has a bit of a more older, smarter mood to it. I don't hear people say the word seldom compared to rarely often. At least in my neck of the woods. But the actual meaning is not different. – LawrenceC Sep 9 '16 at 17:25

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