1. What does the word perilous mean in

You could taste it; a nervous tension that came perilous close to fear?

It looks as if there should be perilously instead, meaning too (close).

  1. Are this and similar contractions of the words in The Game of Thrones by G. Martin (from whence the quote comes) probably due to archaic or rather simplified style?
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    Using the adjective form (of ...ly adverbs) is a simplified style; To me it suggests rustic or bucolic —not necessarily archaic, but definitely not urbane. – Brian Hitchcock Jul 17 '15 at 8:45
  • @Brian Hitchcock - can you make that an answer? It's good. – chasly - supports Monica Jul 17 '15 at 8:58
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    @BrianHitchcock to me it suggests a poetic style and either real or (more likely) affected sophistication. Compare Much Ado About Nothing (bartleby.com/70/1634.html): "...my heart is exceeding heavy." – phoog Jul 17 '15 at 10:09
  • @chasly: thanks, but it's just my unsubstantiated opinion; phoog's is better, and is attested with a source. I think Mark Twain used some non-ly adverbs, but I can't remember if it was in his own voice, or in characters' dialect. – Brian Hitchcock Jul 18 '15 at 8:22
  • @phoog, I agree. However "...my heart is exceeding heavy." can be justified by considering 'exceeding' as a present participle rather than an adjective/adverb. – chasly - supports Monica Oct 30 '15 at 23:04

This is probably in imitation of Shakespeare. For example, from Much Ado about Nothing, Act 3, Scene 4:

God give me joy to wear it! for my heart is exceeding heavy.

(Source: http://www.bartleby.com/70/1634.html)

There is also this, from the opening of Henry V:

The perilous narrow ocean parts asunder

(Source: http://www.bartleby.com/70/2902.html)

That, however, could be "The perilous, narrow ocean parts asunder" just as well as "The perilously narrow ocean parts asunder"


It is a feature of American English to use the adjective form instead of an adverb with -ly, especially in spoken English. There might be some influence of German where the adjective form is also used as adverb of manner.

  • It's also a feature of Elizabethan English which has died out in the UK; it may have nothing to do with German. – Peter Shor Jul 17 '15 at 12:32
  • It may be a feature of Old Saxon and Old English (Anglosaxon). – rogermue Jul 17 '15 at 12:43
  • It may not have been a feature of Old English. Adverbs in Old English were often formed by adding -e to adjectives. I assume flat adverbs arose in Middle English when the ending -e stopped being pronounced. They are still used in the US, but in the UK, most flat adverbs have been re-regularized by adding the new adverb ending -ly to the adjectives. – Peter Shor Jul 20 '15 at 15:18

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