once in a lifetime


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once in a lifetime

A hyperbolic phrase used to describe things or situations that seem unlikely to happen again. You have to take this job in the Zurich office—it's a once in a lifetime opportunity to live in Switzerland.
See also: lifetime, once

once in a lifetime

Extremely rare, especially as an opportunity. For example, An offer like that will come just once in a lifetime. This phrase, often used hyperbolically, was first recorded in 1854. Also see of one's life.
See also: lifetime, once
References in classic literature ?
I have heard that you can see the shadow of Venus only once in a lifetime, and that within a year of seeing it your life's most wonderful gift will come to you," said Leslie.
Do as I do, Monsieur Fouquet, you will not find yourself the worse for it; a fall happens only once in a lifetime to men like yourself, and the chief thing is, to take it gracefully when the chance presents itself.
Holmes, I loved with such a love as comes only once in a lifetime.
Two former residents, who were receiving Aid to Families with Dependent Children, had gotten what they call a Homeless Assistance Grant through the state which pays the first and last month's rent and security deposit only once in a lifetime for low-income individuals.