ex·​act·​ly | \ ig-ˈzak-(t)lē How to pronounce exactly (audio) \

Definition of exactly

1a : in a manner or measure or to a degree or number that strictly conforms to a fact or condition it's exactly 3 o'clock these two pieces are exactly the same size
b : in every respect : altogether, entirely that was exactly the wrong thing to do not exactly what I had in mind
2 : quite so used to express agreement

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Examples of exactly in a Sentence

The levers need to be exactly positioned. we will meet at exactly six o'clock

Recent Examples on the Web

So many of their conflicts are about who exactly gets to run things. Rachel Syme, The New Republic, "The Outlaw World of Deadwood," 6 June 2019 That intensity, along with Thomas’s wide-ranging skill set, is exactly why Miller wanted her to be a core part of his team. Kelli Stacy, courant.com, "Alyssa Thomas could be the Connecticut Sun’s key to a WNBA championship," 6 June 2019 Passersby unable to make out the words printed in small text beneath the image would be forgiven for not knowing what exactly the billboard was advertising. Dvorameyers, Longreads, "The Gymnast’s Position," 5 June 2019 The job will be based somewhere in Africa—exactly where is open for negotiation with the successful candidate. The Economist, "We’re hiring a journalist to write about Africa," 5 June 2019 The group still doesn’t know exactly what to make of The Bridge, an 1,800-square-foot space just north of NoDa with plenty of free parking. charlotteobserver, "After 50 years, innovation and collaboration keep this Charlotte arts group buzzing," 4 June 2019 The man who was shot was taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries while the resident who fired the weapon was detained by officers until detectives could determine what exactly happened, Roth said. Aubrey Carpenter, azcentral, "Glendale resident shoots man he says was trying to kick down his door," 4 June 2019 And so the near-term waiting game begins to see exactly what will become of the Waukegan casino process once Pritzker fulfills his promise to give the final green light. Dan Moran, Lake County News-Sun, "Moran: After bringing a gambling package home, Link says Waukegan casino could break ground next year," 4 June 2019 AtGames doesn't exactly have the best reputation in the retro games community—its plug-and-play consoles tend to have a bit of a slapdash quality to them. Kyle Orland, Ars Technica, "MAME for the masses? “Legends” arcade cabinet could thread that needle," 31 May 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'exactly.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of exactly

1612, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for exactly

exact entry 2 + -ly entry 2

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Statistics for exactly

Last Updated

9 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for exactly

The first known use of exactly was in 1612

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More Definitions for exactly



English Language Learners Definition of exactly

used to stress that something is accurate, complete, or correct
: in a correct or precise way : in a way that agrees completely with what is needed
: in every way

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More from Merriam-Webster on exactly

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for exactly

Spanish Central: Translation of exactly

Nglish: Translation of exactly for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of exactly for Arabic Speakers

Comments on exactly

What made you want to look up exactly? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


showing great care, attention, and effort

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