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July 15, 2013

Word of the Day

  • nary
  • audio pronunciation
  • \NAIR-ee\
  • DEFINITION

adjective

: not any : not one
  • EXAMPLES

"I must have it back as I have nary other copy." — From a 1961 letter by Flannery O'Connor

"It was 4–0 in Cleveland's favor by then, and the way the Rangers were going down meekly—nary a runner reaching second base—the deficit seemed much larger." — From an article by Gil LeBreton in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, June 11, 2013

  • DID YOU KNOW?

"Nary," often used in the phrase "nary a" to mean "not a single," is an 18th century alteration of the adjectival phrase "ne'er a," in which "ne'er" is a contraction of "never." That contraction dates to the 13th century, and the word it abbreviates is even older: "never" can be traced back to Old English "nǽ fre," a combination of "ne" ("not" or "no") and "ǽfre" ("ever"). Old English "ne" also combined with "ā" ("always") to give us "nā," the Old English ancestor of our "no." "Ā," from the Latin "aevum" ("age" or "lifetime") and Greek "aiōn" ("age"), is related to the English adverb "aye," meaning "always, continually, or ever." This "aye" (pronounced to rhyme with "say") is unrelated to the more familiar "aye" (pronounced to rhyme with "sigh") used as a synonym of "yes."

Test Your Memory: What word completes this sentence from a former Word of the Day piece: "When we first met Kelly, she was quiet and _________, so it surprises us now to see that she can be vocal and forward"? The answer is …

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