Here is the item "as often as not" in Oxford dictionary.

as often as not quite frequently or commonly: I had two homes really, because as often as not I was down at her house.

So I know it means commonly. But is it possible to get that meaning from the phrase itself literally?

1 Answer 1


“X occurs as often as Y” means that the frequency of X is the same as the frequency of Y.

I am at her house as often as I am at my house.
I am at her house as often as I am not at her house.

These sentences are technically correct (but awkward). “I am at her house” is repeated here and can be omitted.

I am at her house as often as […] not […].

Thus, literally, “as often as not” means “exactly half the time”. In fact, idiomatically, it means more often than one might expect, or more often than uncommonly.

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