nary

adjective \ ˈner-ē \
Updated on: 15 Nov 2017

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

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Recent Examples of nary from the Web

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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."

Origin and Etymology of nary

alteration of ne'er a

Other Dialect Terms


NARY Defined for English Language Learners

nary

adjective

Definition of nary for English Language Learners

  • : not one


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to praise usually to excess

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