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 vērus (“true”), ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *weh₁- (“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”)) (Compare German wohl, Dutch wel, Swedish väl), and Middle English swith (“quickly; very”) (from Old English swīþe (“very”). More at warlock.
- (UK, US) IPA(key): /ˈvɛɹi/
Audio (UK) (file)
Audio (US) (file)
- Rhymes: -ɛri
- Homophone: vary (in some dialects)
- True, real, actual.
The fierce hatred of a very woman. The very blood and bone of our grammar. He tried his very best.
- c. 1597, William Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part 1, Act II, Scene 2,
- […] I am the veriest varlet that ever chewed with a tooth.
- 1611, King James Version of the Bible, Genesis 27:21,
- And Isaac said unto Jacob, Come near, I pray thee, that I may feel thee, my son, whether thou be my very son Esau or not.
- 1641, John Milton, Of Reformation Touching Church-Discipline in England, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1916, pp. 32-33,
- The very essence of truth is plainnesse, and brightnes; the darknes and crookednesse is our own.
- 1659, Henry Hammond, A Paraphrase and Annotations upon All the Books of the New Testament, London: Richard Davis, 2nd edition, The First Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians, Chapter 3, verse 19, p. 517,
- […] they that think to be wiser then other men, are by so much verier fools then others, and so are discerned to be.
- 1796, Edmund Burke, A Letter from the Right Honourable Edmund Burke to a Noble Lord, on the Attacks Made upon Him and His Pension, London: J. Owen and F. & C. Rivington, p. 30,
- I looked on the consideration of publick service, or publick ornament, to be real and very justice: and I ever held, a scanty and penurious justice to partake of the nature of a wrong.
- 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”, in 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.
- We have many examples in our daies, yea in very children, of such as for feare of some slight incommoditie have yeelded unto death.
- very is used exclusively attributively and never predicatively.
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.
- (with superlatives) Used to firmly establish that nothing else surpasses in some respect.
He was the very best runner there.
- When used in their senses as degree adverbs, "very" and "too" never modify verbs.
- The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.