Printable Version
Pronunciation: ver-ê-li Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adverb

Meaning: 1. Truly, truthfully, in truth. 2. Factually, in fact, most assuredly.

Notes: Here is a word on the brink of extinction if it hasn't already gone over the edge. It is a pretty word, though, that might deserve one more chance. It is distantly related to very and verify, but these two words are its closest relatives.

In Play: The most recent usages according to the Oxford Online Dictionaries is in association with believe: "Mona Lissa verily believes everything I hear on the news." However, if you prefer speech tinged with a bit of historicity, you may use it elsewhere: "Verily, I say unto you, this is the most important election of our lifetimes." In the 1950s every high school in North Carolina had to teach a Shakespeare play each year. My coterie of friends was so impressed that we used this word all the time, along with prithee, Zounds!, and several others.

Word History: Today's Good Word is an adverb from the adverb very before the latter acquired its current meaning. In Middle English very was verrai "true, just, legal" from Old French verai "true, truthful" from Vulgar (Street) Latin veracus, the altered form of Classical Latin verax, veracis "truthful", based on verus "true". The sense of very changed in the 15th century to "greatly, extremely", but that of the duplicated adverb verily remained true to its roots. Latin verus (feminine vera) from PIE werê- "true, trustworthy". This same word came to Old English as waer "pledge", visible in warlock from OE waerloga "oath-breaker". Loga back then meant "liar". (Now for a standing ovation for Grand Panjandrum William Hupy for yet another in a long series of enticing Good Words. He is listed as a Junior Lexiterian in the Agora due to an error that forced him to reregister.)

Dr. Goodword,

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