nay

1 of 2

adverb

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

nay

2 of 2

noun

1
2
a
: 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.

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
And journalists who actually do their jobs are nay-saying trouble-makers who have the temerity to not rely on press releases. Ed Yong, Discover Magazine, 26 May 2012 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. SI.com, 9 Oct. 2019
Noun
Washington — The Senate overwhelmingly confirmed Air Force Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr. as Joint Chiefs chairman Wednesday night, with a vote of 83 yeas to 11 nays, breaking through Sen. Tommy Tuberville's months-long blockade on military promotions and confirmations. Kathryn Watson, CBS News, 20 Sep. 2023 One nay vote from either senator would block her confirmation. Michal Lev-Ram, Fortune, 17 July 2023 Those who have been on the Birkenstock bandwagon for years—nay, decades—are honestly a little miffed right now. Meg Donohue, ELLE, 6 Jan. 2023 By the time Baird arrived, the demand — nay, necessity — for lawns that were even more drought-tolerant was imminent. Gustavo Arellano, Los Angeles Times, 9 Sep. 2022 In the meantime, below are some statements from the believers, the nay-sayers, and truthers on Tom Brady’s alleged retirement. Tom Brady Unretires, Vulture, 13 Mar. 2022 Princess Charlotte, 7, looked so sweet in a denim romper embroidered with what look to be red strawberries at the top, and nay sneakers. Rosa Sanchez, Harper's BAZAAR, 13 Dec. 2022 Every family — nay, every person — probably has some opinion on the best time to dig into the feast. Becky Krystal, Washington Post, 21 Nov. 2022 But there is something deeper to my ongoing attraction—nay, obsession—with this show. Vogue Runway, Vogue, 22 Nov. 2022

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'nay.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Adverb and Noun

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

First Known Use

Adverb

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near nay

Cite this Entry

“Nay.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/nay. Accessed 24 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

nay

1 of 2 adverb
1
2
: not merely this but also : not only so but
the letter made him happy, nay, ecstatic

nay

2 of 2 noun
1
2
a
: a negative reply or vote
b
: one who votes no

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