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

Did you know?

Nary, most 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 nǣfre, a combination of ne ("not" or "no") and ǣfre ("ever"). Old English ne also combined with ā ("always") to give us , 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 is nary a hint of self-interrogation within Liz. David John Chávez, The Mercury News, 29 Mar. 2024 Upon slicing open the fresh muffins, there was nary a crag in sight. Sarah Schutte, National Review, 11 Feb. 2024 The robot’s at least temporary retirement was accompanied by nary a beep. Hurubie Meko, New York Times, 2 Feb. 2024 The species variety was amazing and there was nary a single squirrel. Paul Cappiello, The Courier-Journal, 12 Jan. 2024 There is nary an old building, promenade, or tree in Samara; only hotels, public offices, banks, and sunburnt squares. Michelle Orange, Harper's Magazine, 13 Dec. 2023 Flames and smoke surge out of the back of the building, with the same intensity as the wind whipping the flag in the 2017 painting, but in the foreground the museum floats in a pool of water showing nary a trace of disturbance. Philip Kennicott, Washington Post, 3 Nov. 2023 By Tuesday, there was nary a head-encircling hair accessory in sight. Marci Robin, Allure, 13 Sep. 2023 Helmed by Taibi Magar, there’s nary a weak performance in the production at the Loeb Drama Center. Don Aucoin, BostonGlobe.com, 13 Sep. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'nary.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

alteration of ne'er a

First Known Use

1746, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of nary was in 1746

Podcast

Dictionary Entries Near nary

Cite this Entry

“Nary.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/nary. Accessed 13 Apr. 2024.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!