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

Definition of nary

: 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 There's nary a raindrop in Monsoon, director Hong Khaou's gorgeous second feature; all the weather is internal. Mary Sollosi,, "Monsoon is an aching reflection on love and home: Review," 13 Nov. 2020 With nary a mask in sight, protesters called Newsom a tyrant and showed their support for President Trump, evidenced by Trump 2020 gear everywhere, including for sale. Anita Chabria, Los Angeles Times, "‘Freedom’ protest against coronavirus orders leads to arrests at California Capitol," 1 May 2020 Few team players had ever became as rock-star, movie-star famous and with nary a scandal the way Jordan had — almost exclusively through athletic supremacy. Wesley Morris, New York Times, "In ‘The Last Dance,’ Michael Jordan and the Bulls Still Dominate," 19 Apr. 2020 There wasn’t a nary a man, there wasn’t a — there wasn’t a mine a running a lump of coal or running no work. New York Times, "Memories of the 1918 Pandemic From Those Who Survived," 4 Apr. 2020 Sunday sure didn't help defensive player of the year candidates Nick Bosa and Cam Jordan, who each finished with two tackles but nary a sack. Nate Davis, USA TODAY, "32 things we learned from Week 14 of the 2019 NFL season," 9 Dec. 2019 By the time he was done, Scales had already addressed the council—with nary a camera present. Roy S. Johnson |, al, "Johnson: After public sparring, perhaps Woodfin and Scales will finally add much-needed police presence in east Birmingham," 11 Feb. 2020 Also of note: Water seems to be the beverage of choice (that is, of the two possible choices) on the floor on Friday, with nary a glass of milk to be found. NBC News, "Schiff wraps Democrats’ case: 'That has been proved'," 25 Jan. 2020 This variety is incredibly durable, able to withstand packing, shipping, and extended storage with nary a bruise or blemish. Popular Science, "Make the most out of the latest, greatest apple—the Cosmic Crisp," 10 Feb. 2020

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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Cite this Entry

“Nary.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Feb. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of nary

: not one

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