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The Collaborative International Dictionary
At once

Once \Once\ (w[u^]ns), adv. [OE. ones, anes, an adverbial form fr. one, on, an, one. See One-, -Wards.]

  1. For one time; by limitation to the number one; not twice nor any number of times more than one.

    Ye shall . . . go round about the city once.
    --Josh. vi. 3.

    Trees that bear mast are fruitful but once in two years.
    --Bacon.

  2. At some one period of time; -- used indefinitely.

    My soul had once some foolish fondness for thee.
    --Addison.

    That court which we shall once govern.
    --Bp. Hall.

  3. At any one time; -- often nearly equivalent to ever, if ever, or whenever; as, once kindled, it may not be quenched. Wilt thou not be made clean? When shall it once be? --Jer. xiii. 27. To be once in doubt Is once to be resolved. --Shak. Note: Once is used as a noun when preceded by this or that; as, this once, that once. It is also sometimes used elliptically, like an adjective, for once-existing. ``The once province of Britain.'' --J. N. Pomeroy. At once.

    1. At the same point of time; immediately; without delay. ``Stand not upon the order of your going, but go at once.''
      --Shak. ``I . . . withdrew at once and altogether.''
      --Jeffrey.

    2. At one and the same time; simultaneously; in one body; as, they all moved at once.

      Once and again, once and once more; repeatedly. ``A dove sent forth once and again, to spy.''
      --Milton.

At once

At \At\, prep. [AS. [ae]t; akin to OHG. az, Goth., OS., & Icel. at, Sw. [*a]t, Dan. & L. ad.] Primarily, this word expresses the relations of presence, nearness in place or time, or direction toward; as, at the ninth hour; at the house; to aim at a mark. It is less definite than in or on; at the house may be in or near the house. From this original import are derived all the various uses of at. It expresses:

  1. A relation of proximity to, or of presence in or on, something; as, at the door; at your shop; at home; at school; at hand; at sea and on land.

  2. The relation of some state or condition; as, at war; at peace; at ease; at your service; at fault; at liberty; at risk; at disadvantage.

  3. The relation of some employment or action; occupied with; as, at engraving; at husbandry; at play; at work; at meat (eating); except at puns.

  4. The relation of a point or position in a series, or of degree, rate, or value; as, with the thermometer at 80[deg]; goods sold at a cheap price; a country estimated at 10,000 square miles; life is short at the longest.

  5. The relations of time, age, or order; as, at ten o'clock; at twenty-one; at once; at first.

  6. The relations of source, occasion, reason, consequence, or effect; as, at the sight; at this news; merry at anything; at this declaration; at his command; to demand, require, receive, deserve, endure at your hands.

  7. Relation of direction toward an object or end; as, look at it; to point at one; to aim at a mark; to throw, strike, shoot, wink, mock, laugh at any one.

    At all, At home, At large, At last, At length, At once, etc. See under All, Home, Large, Last (phrase and syn.), Length, Once, etc.

    At it, busily or actively engaged.

    At least. See Least and However.

    At one. See At one, in the Vocabulary.

    Syn: In, At.

    Usage: When reference to the interior of any place is made prominent in is used. It is used before the names of countries and cities (esp. large cities); as, we live in America, in New York, in the South. At is commonly employed before names of houses, institutions, villages, and small places; as, Milton was educated at Christ's College; money taken in at the Customhouse; I saw him at the jeweler's; we live at Beachville. At may be used before the name of a city when it is regarded as a mere point of locality. ``An English king was crowned at Paris.''
    --Macaulay. ``Jean Jacques Rousseau was born at Geneva, June, 28, 1712.''
    --J. Morley. In regard to time, we say at the hour, on the day, in the year; as, at 9 o'clock, on the morning of July 5th, in the year 1775.

Wiktionary
at once

adv. 1 (context obsolete English) In one group; together. 2 (context idiomatic English) at the same time; simultaneously.

WordNet
at once
  1. adv. without delay or hesitation; with no time intervening; "he answered immediately"; "found an answer straightaway"; "an official accused of dishonesty should be suspended forthwith"; "Come here now!" [syn: immediately, instantly, straightaway, straight off, directly, now, right away, forthwith, in real time, like a shot]

  2. simultaneously; "he took three cookies at a time" [syn: at a time, at one time]

Usage examples of "at once".

To the new and fascinating duties of his chosen profession he at once devoted himself with such ardor as to draw favorable comment from his superiors.

Suddenly the blood-curdling war-whoop arose from all sides at once, a rattling volley of rifle-shots pattered against the palisades, and a swarm of yelling, naked figures leaped from the surrounding obscurity.

There every one shook hands with him, bidding him at once God-speed and farewell, while the soldiers lined the ramparts, and as he emerged from the gates saluted him with a rousing British cheer.

If fear of an Indian outbreak is all that keeps him at Detroit, tell him from me that he may return east at once, bringing his pretty daughter, your charming sister, with him.

A single faint whiff of this, borne to Donald, on a puff of the night wind, gave him the very knowledge he wanted, and he at once began to move with the same caution that he had observed on the previous evening while creeping up to the fire-lighted circles of the victorious Wyandots.

He had not walked more than two hours, and was staying his stomach with a handful of parched corn brought from the Indian camp, when, all at once, he found himself amid the remains of recent camp-fires on ground that was much trampled.

All at once his outstretched hands came into contact with something that barred his further progress.

All at once Donald recalled the voice that had demanded the surrender of the blockhouse.

All at once it rested on the two white men, whose presence he seemed to note for the first time.

During it the leaders of the war-party also held a council, which resulted in a decision to proceed at once on their journey.

I was just wondering how we could down him without giving him a chance to alarm the camp, when all at once you had the job done.

It is that we advance boldly into the camp and demand that the ladies be at once taken to Detroit, or Fort Niagara if the Indians prefer, where we will promise that a goodly ransom shall be paid for them.

Now he was ordered to begin work at once on his former master and decorate him in the highest style of savage art.

Detroit began to roll away in fleecy masses, its foremost boats were discovered by a sentinel, who at once announced the joyful intelligence.

All at once their rejoicings were silenced by a double sheet of fire that leaped from both banks of the river at once.