\ ˈnā How to pronounce nay (audio) \

Definition of nay

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 old-fashioned + literary used to correct what has just been said by replacing a word with one that is more accurate or appropriate The letter made him happy, nay, ecstatic.Joseph was an elderly, nay, an old man—very old, perhaps, though hale and sinewy.— Emily Brontë… bodies of work that have shown themselves to be crucial to an understanding of the art—nay, the culture—of our times.— Carter Ratcliff
2 old-fashioned : no Only one councillor voted nay on the proposal. I dare not say him nay. [=I dare not say no to him] … he was young and too good-natured to say nay to any woman who wooed him.— Samuel Butler "Gold digging, sir?" "Nay, sir," answered I, starting, "I was merely—ahem!—merely—I say I was merely digging-round my chimney."— Herman Melville



Definition of nay (Entry 2 of 2)

2a : a negative reply or vote The nays outnumbered the ayes, and so the measure did not pass.
b : one who votes no He voted with the nays.

Keep scrolling for more

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms & Antonyms for nay

Synonyms: Adverb

Synonyms: Noun

Antonyms: Noun

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of nay in a Sentence

Adverb Nay, I do not wish to go. I was angry—nay, furious—at the way they were treating that poor dog. Noun when the votes were tallied, it was 241 yeas and 54 nays gave a resounding nay to the request for a mixed-company camping trip
Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb So, coming live from my Van Down By the River, Old Prospector's pickaxe in my right hand, Cowbell in my left, Opera Man wig on my head, El Nino thundering away above it, here are the eight footballers who could, nay should, host SNL., 9 Oct. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Student trustee Malinalli Villalobos joined him in voting nay, but the student role is advisory without a vote that counts toward the outcome. Gwendolyn Wu, San Francisco Chronicle, 8 May 2022 The duo is also dressed in matching iridescent corsets shaped like seashells that add to the under-the-sea scenery — nay, seanery. Jennet Jusu, Allure, 24 Mar. 2022 Some Palestinian rights advocates, including McCollum, didn’t join Tlaib’s nay. New York Times, 3 Mar. 2022 Emphasize the positive and chase away nay-saying demons. Phil Blair, San Diego Union-Tribune, 27 Dec. 2021 Keep your eyes peeled for cult-favorite Nordstrom pieces as well, like those Zella leggings with hundreds—nay, thousands—of five-star reviews—and the $44 bra with a loyal celeb following. Talia Abbas, Glamour, 29 Nov. 2021 Asynchronous collaboration is inherently disruptive and a game changer because there’s no place to hide for nay-sayers and defenders of the status quo. Keith Ferrazzi, Forbes, 29 Oct. 2021 Fat Bear Week is an annual competition, nay, celebration, of fat bears everywhere -- although in this case, really just the ones in Katmai National Park and Preserve in Alaska. Leah Asmelash, CNN, 3 Oct. 2021 These votes were surprise, surprise, split along party lines with Republicans voting yea and Democrats voting nay. Bruce Y. Lee, Forbes, 21 May 2021 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'nay.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Keep scrolling for more

First Known Use of nay


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for nay

Adverb and Noun

Middle English, from Old Norse nei, from ne not + ei ever — more at no, aye

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More About nay

Time Traveler for nay

Time Traveler

The first known use of nay was in the 13th century

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near nay




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for nay

Cite this Entry

“Nay.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 May. 2022.

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

More Definitions for nay


\ ˈnā How to pronounce nay (audio) \

Kids Definition of nay

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: no entry 1 sense 2 Are you coming? Nay, I'm not.


plural nays

Kids Definition of nay (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : no entry 3 sense 2 The final vote was 3 ayes and 6 nays.

More from Merriam-Webster on nay

Nglish: Translation of nay for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of nay for Arabic Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Name That Food

  • a-light
  • Name these cookies!
True or False

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

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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