nary

adjective
\ 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

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 Currently nary were African-Americans, 3.4% were Hispanic, and 2.4% were East or South Asian. Ellen Mcgirt, Fortune, 31 May 2022 This is a play that hurls a lot of biographical information at the audience, but Reiter's diction and delivery are impeccable and nary a word is lost. Jim Higgins, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 23 May 2022 The very lawmakers who originally seemed the most likely to bolt over bad news had spent the hours leading up to the big reveal offering The New Republic’s Grace Segers nary a discouraging word. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, 19 Nov. 2021 There's nary a raindrop in Monsoon, director Hong Khaou's gorgeous second feature; all the weather is internal. Mary Sollosi, EW.com, 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, 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, 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, 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, 9 Dec. 2019 See More

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.

First Known Use of nary

1746, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for nary

alteration of ne'er a

Learn More About nary

Listen to Our Podcast About nary

Dictionary Entries Near nary

narwhal

nary

NAS

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for nary

Last Updated

7 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Nary.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/nary. Accessed 3 Jul. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Words Named After People

  • name tags
  • Namesake of the leotard, Jules Léotard had what profession?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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