Can anyone confirm that there is indeed no adverbial form of "controlled" that could be used with verbs that describe actions done in a controlled way.

For example, it seems to be wrong to write

The bomb was detonated controlledly.

instead of

The bomb was detonated in a controlled manner/way/fashion.

There is a somewhat related post here, but it does not specifically address the question of whether or not there is an adverb.

(I suppose it does not make much sense to ask why the English language does not have a shorter way of saying "in a controlled way", but let me mention it anyway.)

  • 5
    Just a wild guess, but I suspect if you got together a full list of all valid adjectival usages in English, it would turn out that most of them don't have a single-word adverbial form deriving from the same root term. The shorter forms here include "They detonated the bomb under control", and "He spoke with control". Oct 19, 2014 at 17:44
  • @FumbleFingers those are excellent short forms which I had overlooked. Oct 19, 2014 at 17:47
  • Actually, looking at adjectivally used past participles, indeed most do not seem to have a generally used adverbial form. Admittedly I can think of one, but not that many :)
    – oerkelens
    Nov 18, 2014 at 18:58
  • Deliberately ..
    – Greg Lee
    Feb 26, 2015 at 4:20
  • What is wrong with an adverbial phrase? Just because it has spaces in it doesn’t mean it doesn’t suit the situation perfect. What more could you hope for?
    – tchrist
    Mar 11, 2015 at 4:03

7 Answers 7


Among friends I'd just say "controllèdly". You might also try something like "The bomb's detonation was controlled."


While it only appears passingly in two of the common online dictionaries (as a related form in dictionary.com), controllingly does appear in an ngram search, although not very frequently.

Its use may also be limited in the circumstances in which it is applicable. For example, it does not seem to fit well with your bomb example. I would be wary.


Normally we wouldn't waste time embellishing the action when it's stated in a passive voice. If you want more attention brought to the action, try the active voice, like this, placing it as the subject noun with a perfectly usable and already available adjective:

A controlled detonation set the bomb off.

If you have to use the passive voice, try this:

The bomb was deliberately detonated.


The bomb was carefully detonated.

or, if you are implying that it was detonated in some manner calculated for a certain purpose, you might say

The bomb was systematically detonated.

In any case, context is important, and there are at least two different interpretations to what you are trying to say in my examples above. Having worked in a business where "bombs" are a principal topic of concern, I wouldn't be sure what you were trying to say in your original form without context.

Unless you choose your words more carefully from the common language (rather than searching for something from easily misunderstood and ambiguous words), I wouldn't want you near the equipment when one is detonated.

  • Thanks for your reply. I have no personal interest in bombs, it was merely an example for the point I was trying to make. The meaning of the sentence itself was not a crucial aspect for me. Feb 18, 2015 at 8:17

An action can be controllably taken; clumsier forms of the adverb are unlikely and unworthy. The bomb was controllably detonated. And with a tacit "by", the root serves the purpose. The bomb was control detonated.
In the example, there is no solid reason for a modifier. Without some context or modifier to the contrary, "bomb" and "detonate" imply intention and control.

  • 2
    But a controllable action is one that can be controlled, not one that is.
    – wys1wyg
    Mar 10, 2015 at 21:51

Adverbs (as you know) are used to modify verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs. They can be a word or a group of words and are not solely formed by adding "-ly." Therefore "well-controlled," "happily controlled," or "very slowly controlled" would be examples of "controlled"'s adverb forms.

  • Happily, though, if you add "-ly" to anything, people will understand it as an adverb. Go English!
    – wys1wyg
    Mar 10, 2015 at 21:49

Typical newspaper usage would suggest that 'remotely' is the word you want. Although it isn't formed from 'control', most readers will assume that remote detonation implies control.


There's nothing wrong with using the word controlledly. Just because a particular dictionary does not acknowledge a word (especially one constructed using grammatically accepted rules) does not mean it is incorrect to use it, at least certainly not in my opinion.

The concept makes perfect grammatical sense. Using a different word, such as controllingly or controllably would have at least a subtly different meaning than what you quite clearly intended by choosing the word in the first place. Therefore I say use the word that most accurately reflects your intended meaning.

Language is, after all, the art of communication, no?

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