Definition of nary
: not any : not one I must have it back as I have nary other copy — Flannery O'Connor
: not a single survived the accident with nary a scratch
nary was our Word of the Day on 07/15/2013. Hear the podcast!
Recent Examples of nary from the Web
The system passed initial testing in spring 2002, when an electrified troop carrier survived a rocket attack with nary a scratch.
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.
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."
Origin and Etymology of nary
alteration of ne'er a
First Known Use: 1848See Words from the same year
NARY Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of nary for English Language Learners
: not one
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