Can you use ado in this manner:

A person's ado

One's ado

I've heard it used as "without much ado" but am not sure about the above

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  • 2
    The word is generally only used idiomatically, and hardly ever without "much". – Hot Licks Jan 1 '16 at 0:55
  • Have you looked in any dictionary? / @Hot Licks ... or 'more'. – Edwin Ashworth Jan 1 '16 at 1:26
  • Much ado and further ado are, if not common, at least not unusual. SO's ado is unheard of, and sounds very wrong, ado is not something one can have. See the ngrams. – Kevin Jan 1 '16 at 1:32
  • @Kevin - Yeah, I forgot about "further", as in "without further ado". But as I said, it's an idiom. There are maybe 2-3 others. – Hot Licks Jan 1 '16 at 1:51
  • 4
    Net-net: Even if one could argue that it's syntactically and semantically correct to use ado as a "general purpose" noun, this is simply not how it's used, and many listeners would not understand such use. It's use should be confined to the handful of idiomatic expressions it's commonly found in, unless you really want to break new ground. – Hot Licks Jan 1 '16 at 2:39

You can use 'ado' in that manner. I won't speak to the advisability of it, because I don't know how you might use it.

In Browning's "Paracelsus" (published 1835):

Like chrysalids impatient for the air;
The shining dorrs are busy; beetles run
Along the furrows, ants make their ado;

Browning's meaning is clear, and the economy of the expression, admirable.

Less clear is this use from Westminster Commentaries (Volume 41, Walter Lock, David Capell Simpson, Methuen & Company, 1919):

Then arising, he bade them cease from their ado or mourning, for the lad was alive.

That use apparently required offsetting emphasis (italics) and further definition ("or mourning").

The above uses were all I was able to uncover with a somewhat cursory search.

The caveats of can are probably evident: the use of 'ado' after a possessive is vanishingly rare, even in poetry.

Additional Uses

As it turned out, I shortchanged the OP (by a few pennies only) with the initial cursory search. Raymond Tallis, for example, uses "his ado" twice in The Black Mirror: Looking at Life Through Death (Yale University Press, Aug 25, 2015).

Much of his ado was paid work. More ado was duty outside work. There was general togethering which didn't fall entirely inside or outside the category of work or duty. And some ado was recreation – play, fun, mucking about, pottering.

(p. 125)


(p. 305)

Likewise, other authors have used 'ado' after possessives. Nothing restricts such use other than the author's sense of archaism and the tolerance of the audience for uncommon expression.

He got himself wellnigh out of breath with swearing and with running to and fro; and after all his ado, he was able only to retain those of us who were from Alamance, and who numbered eight, including the captain.

(From Alamance - The Great And Final Experiment, Calvin Henderson Wiley, Harper, New York, 1847.)

  • Never read much of Browning, but I think OP is referring to the 'ado' as used in 'without much ado' and not the definition of 'ado' which references 'trouble or difficulty'. Do you think so? i.e. "Along the furrows, ants make their trouble;" I might be missing something here, it is 1AM so apologies if I misinterpreted something. – silenceislife Jan 1 '16 at 14:00
  • @silenceislife, not sure what you're asking. The OP is clearly referring to any noun sense of 'ado' that can be possessed in some way. In the case of the ant, I'd be inclined to think the sense is "2. Action, activity; work, business; fuss." However, no conflict is entailed if the sense is the same as that in "much ado": "3. Trouble, difficulty; freq. in with (also without) much ado. Also as a count noun, freq. in to have one's own ados (now Sc.)." The count noun ("now Sc.") is also still in use. Defs from OED. – JEL Jan 1 '16 at 21:16

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