: not any : not one
Did You Know?
Nary, most 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 nǣfre, a combination of ne ("not" or "no") and ǣfre ("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.
"I must have it back as I have nary other copy." — Flannery O'Connor, letter, 1961
"Under harsh fluorescent hangar lights that would make even a brand-new Mercedes appear to have been painted with a broom, Symmetry reveals nary ripple nor flaw." — Stephan Wilkinson, Popular Science, March 2004
Test Your Vocabulary with M-W Quizzes
Test Your Vocabulary
Fill in the blanks to complete a noun that means "nothing": _ _ bk _ s.VIEW THE ANSWER
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