\ ˈner-ē How to pronounce nary (audio) \

Definition of nary

dialect
: not any : not one I must have it back as I have nary other copy— Flannery O'Connor
nary a or nary an
: not a single survived the accident with nary a scratch

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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."

Examples of nary in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web So the folks in tuxes and gowns slurped chilled golden beet soup and noshed on king oyster mushrooms and wild-mushroom risotto, with nary a rubber chicken in sight. Washington Post, "Best-actor winner Joaquin Phoenix praised the vegan meal at the Golden Globes. (Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)," 6 Jan. 2020 Nancy Pelosi, 79, is a light brunette with nary a stray gray. Author: Roxanne Roberts, Anchorage Daily News, "The senior citizens running for president and how they try to look younger," 10 Nov. 2019 Unfortunately, nary a listless Gen Z-er wants to deal with your 😤. There simply is no good response. Emily Winter, The New Yorker, "The Seven Emojis of Grief," 25 Sep. 2019 For those of you who weren’t paying attention on that February night 19 years ago, Lopez’s cut-below-the-navel dress definitely won the 42nd Grammy Awards, even though the singer took home nary a trophy. Los Angeles Times, "The J.Lo dress is back! Could her iconic Grammys look help her campaign for Oscar?," 20 Sep. 2019 Nancy Pelosi, 79, is a light brunette with nary a stray gray. Author: Roxanne Roberts, Anchorage Daily News, "The senior citizens running for president and how they try to look younger," 10 Nov. 2019 Nancy Pelosi, 79, is a light brunette with nary a stray gray. Author: Roxanne Roberts, Anchorage Daily News, "The senior citizens running for president and how they try to look younger," 10 Nov. 2019 Nancy Pelosi, 79, is a light brunette with nary a stray gray. Author: Roxanne Roberts, Anchorage Daily News, "The senior citizens running for president and how they try to look younger," 10 Nov. 2019 Nancy Pelosi, 79, is a light brunette with nary a stray gray. Washington Post, "Can we talk about the senior citizens running for president and how they try to look younger?," 6 Nov. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'nary.' 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 nary

1746, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for nary

alteration of ne'er a

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Last Updated

22 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Nary.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/nary. Accessed 28 January 2020.

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More Definitions for nary

How to pronounce nary (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of nary

: not one

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Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with nary

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