I get the sense that the interjection nay is seen as outdated and used only for humorous effect.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 Jun 15 '14 at 3:05
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    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 Jun 15 '14 at 4:37
  • Though naysayer is still in common use I think. – Jim Jun 15 '14 at 5:17

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."

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