Definition of if only in English:

if only


  • 1Even if for no other reason than.

    ‘Willy would have to tell George more, if only to stop him pestering’
    • ‘It has also prompted me to get Lucky Jim out of the library if only for the shallow reason that Larkin is the dedicatee.’
    • ‘This is one of those films that will be talked about for a long time so it should be seen if only for that reason.’
    • ‘I do have to say that I consider that last bit unlikely, if only for reasons of practicality.’
    • ‘Even when we believe that death is a moral good, it is a unique one if only for the reason that no one knows what it is like.’
    • ‘She would help Sarah, if only to stop Lauren from thinking even worse of her.’
    • ‘Ash stopped if only to make Salacia end her pleading and put it back in the gold plated box that had safeguarded it.’
    • ‘We are sure, if only out of political expediency and with hindsight, you wish you had not used this language.’
    • ‘There are times when I wish things were different, if only because the people deserve better.’
    • ‘The rest is depressing history that is worth retelling, if only to avoid repeating.’
    • ‘I'll stick up for him here, if only because he does such a poor job defending himself.’
  • 2Used to express a wish, especially regretfully.

    ‘if only I had listened to you’
    • ‘Most salmon anglers have a wish list of places they would love to fish if only they could afford it.’
    • ‘So could Arianna, if only she could hide her smarts and play the game of politics.’
    • ‘The views out over the river through the glass frontage would have been great, if only I could have seen them.’
    • ‘So do people who would love to stop and shop - if only they could find somewhere to leave the car.’
    • ‘It might be love if only they can stop playing nasty practical tricks on each other.’
    • ‘In effect, you say, you want money so that you can stop worrying about what you would like to do if only you had money.’
    • ‘Damn, if only I had of been able to think of a reasonable excuse to get him to stay.’
    • ‘His people offered to accept him as their King and to lay all the riches of the land at his feet if only he would stop preaching.’
    • ‘Maybe the lawsuit is a bother and there is another way, if only Pooh could stop bumping for a moment and think of it.’
    • ‘Stardom beckons on Sky One, if only you stop trying to entertain the Sun readers.’