only: [OE] Only is a compound formed in the Old English period from ān, ancestor of modern English one, and -lic ‘-ly’. It originally meant ‘solitary’ as well as ‘unique’, but this sense has been taken over by the related lonely. Only preserves the early diphthongal pronunciation which its source one has lost. => lonely, one
Old English ænlic, anlic "only, unique, solitary," literally "one-like," from an "one" (see one) + -lic "-like" (see -ly (1)). Use as an adverb and conjunction developed in Middle English. Distinction of only and alone (now usually in reference to emotional states) is unusual; in many languages the same word serves for both. German also has a distinction in allein/einzig. Phrase only-begotten (mid-15c.) is biblical, translating Latin unigenitus, Greek monogenes. The Old English form was ancenned.