I get the sense that the interjection nay is seen as outdated and used only for humorous effect. Is this assumption true, or is it still acceptable in serious writing?

  • Are you a native speaker?
    – tchrist
    Commented Jun 15, 2014 at 3:05
  • 1
    Daniel, 'nay' is typically used in jest but but as the author, you determine the use. Personally,I would not use it in technical work
    – Third News
    Commented Jun 15, 2014 at 4:37
  • Though naysayer is still in common use I think.
    – Jim
    Commented Jun 15, 2014 at 5:17

1 Answer 1


As to the meaning of 'no'

oxford english

  1. (archaic or dialect) no: nay, I must not think thus.

But it still has another meaning:

  1. or rather (used to emphasize a more appropriate word than one just used): permission to build the superstore will take months, nay years.

I would look at the context of the writing to determine whether or not it seems 'jocular', as you suggested, but I wouldn't be surprised to find this word used in so-called "serious writing."


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.