\ 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

The most eagle-eyed in our office spotted a final recognizable item: this geometric rose gold photo frame—which sits on a desk in the house, with nary a photo inside. Hadley Keller, House Beautiful, "All the Home Decor Items You Can Shop in Taylor Swift's "ME" Video," 26 Apr. 2019 Game of Thrones quickly distinguished itself for killing off a slew of seemingly major characters with nary a flinch over the course of seven seasons. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Here’s the first teaser for the final season of Game of Thrones," 13 Nov. 2018 Two of my siblings offered supportive comments — from the other, nary a peep. Carolyn Hax, The Seattle Times, "They’re retiring to their favorite place. Why is sibling silent?," 31 Oct. 2018 The 49-year-old singer and actress has aged like fine wine, with nary a wrinkle or pore in sight. Maya Allen, Marie Claire, "J.Lo Is Launching a Skincare Line So You Can Glow Forever," 14 Dec. 2018 Part of the appeal, no doubt, is that with nary a V-neck or above-the-knee hem, Batsheva is very in sync with today’s modest dressing. Amanda Fitzsimons, Glamour, "Batsheva Hay Is Redefining Sexy—With Prairie Dresses," 2 Aug. 2018 Theatergoers will find nary a trace of Sean Hayes's colorful character Jack on Will & Grace in his Broadway debut, Promises, Promises. Jennifer Dixon, Harper's BAZAAR, "Broadway's Promises, Promises Promises to Be Charming," 3 May 2010 But the real comedy comes from the video’s remarkable original edit, which alternated perfectly between the male and female suspects’ scenes, conveying unintended slapstick with nary a sound. Amy B Wang, Washington Post, "Cameras capture every angle of Canadian couple’s snack-throwing, ceiling-shattering arrest," 30 June 2018 In the dead of winter, most of Hope is shuttered, with nary a restaurant or a gas station to be found, let alone a WiFi connection or a dependable phone signal. Maya Wilson, Bon Appetit, "Love Is a Cold Cocktail in the Middle of Frigid Alaska," 12 Feb. 2018

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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Statistics for nary

Last Updated

14 May 2019

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Time Traveler for nary

The first known use of nary was in 1746

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English Language Learners Definition of nary

: not one

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