From Middle English verray, verrai (“true”), from Old French verai (“true”) (Modern French: vrai), from assumed Vulgar Latin *vērācus, alteration of Latin vērāx (“truthful”), from Latin vērus (“true”), from Proto-Indo-European *wēr- (“true, benevolent”). Cognate with Old English wǣr (“true, correct”), Dutch waar (“true”), German wahr (“true”), Icelandic alvöru (“earnest”). Displaced native Middle English sore, sār (“very”) (from Old English sār (“grievous, extreme”) (Compare German: sehr, Dutch: zeer), Middle English wel (“very”) (from Old English wel (“well, very”)), and Middle English swith (“quickly; very”) (from Old English swīþe (“very”). More at warlock.
- (Received Pronunciation, General American) IPA(key): /ˈvɛɹi/
Audio (UK) (file)
- (US, Mary-marry-merry distinction)
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- (US, Mary-marry-merry merger)
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- Rhymes: -ɛri
- True, real, actual.
- The fierce hatred of a very woman. The very blood and bone of our grammar. He tried his very best.
- Bible, Genesis xxvii. 21
- whether thou be my very son Esau or not
- John Milton (1608-1674)
- The very essence of truth is plainness and brightness.
- Edmund Burke (1729-1797)
- I looked on the consideration of public service or public ornament to be real and very justice.
- 1914, Louis Joseph Vance, Nobody, chapter III:
- Turning back, then, toward the basement staircase, she began to grope her way through blinding darkness, but had taken only a few uncertain steps when, of a sudden, she stopped short and for a little stood like a stricken thing, quite motionless save that she quaked to her very marrow in the grasp of a great and enervating fear.
2012 November 7, Matt Bai, “Winning a Second Term, Obama Will Confront Familiar Headwinds”, New York Times:
- The country’s first black president, and its first president to reach adulthood after the Vietnam War and Watergate, Mr. Obama seemed like a digital-age leader who could at last dislodge the stalemate between those who clung to the government of the Great Society, on the one hand, and those who disdained the very idea of government, on the other.
- The same; identical.
- He proposed marriage in the same restaurant, at the very table where they first met. That's the very tool that I need.
- 1879, Richard Jefferies, The Amateur Poacher, chapter1:
- Molly the dairymaid came a little way from the rickyard, and said she would pluck the pigeon that very night after work. She was always ready to do anything for us boys; and we could never quite make out why they scolded her so for an idle hussy indoors. It seemed so unjust. Looking back, I recollect she had very beautiful brown eyes.
- With limiting effect: mere.
very (not comparable)
- To a great extent or degree; extremely; exceedingly.
- You’re drinking very slowly.
- 1915, Mrs. Belloc Lowndes, The Lodger, chapter II:
- Then his sallow face brightened, for the hall had been carefully furnished, and was very clean. ¶ There was a neat hat-and-umbrella stand, and the stranger's weary feet fell soft on a good, serviceable dark-red drugget, which matched in colour the flock-paper on the walls.
1918, W. B. Maxwell, chapter 13, in The Mirror and the Lamp:
- “[…] They talk of you as if you were Croesus—and I expect the beggars sponge on you unconscionably.” And Vickers launched forth into a tirade very different from his platform utterances. He spoke with extreme contempt of the dense stupidity exhibited on all occasions by the working classes.
- True, truly.
- He was the very best runner there.
- When used in their senses as degree adverbs, "very" and "too" never modify verbs.
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