Does using vastly to mean to a [very] great degree; extremely in contexts not involving measurement or comparison, now sound common and idiomatic to British ears, or is it still likely to be considered objectionable, or at least controversial, by a majority of educated native speakers of British English?
- Per Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of English Usage, ed. 1993),
The use of vastly to mean "to a great degree" in contexts not involving measurement or comparison has been criticized as an affectation, especially in British English. Such use is common and idiomatic in American English (emphasis is mine):
The soil is a vastly complex ecosystem --Barry Commoner, Columbia Forum, Spring 1968
I am aware that I have vastly oversimplified some of the most complicated questions --Richard Neuhaus, Harper's, October 1971
- Per Fowler's Modern English Usage, ed. 2004),
In contexts of measure or comparison, where it means by much, by a great deal, as is vastly improved, a vastly larger audience, vastly is still in regular use (emphasis is mine.) Where the notion of measure is wanting, and it means no more than 'exceedingly, extremely, very' as in I should vastly like to know, it was fashionable in the 18c. (e.g. The City ... was vastly full of People--Defoe, 1722. This is all vastly true--E. Burney, 1782. A'nt you come vastly late?--Sheridan, 1799), but became less common as time went on, and is still now in restricted use.
Here are a few sourced examples of such uses of vastly, which, according to M-W and Fowler, might sound (or should I say, should sound) objectionable to many native speakers of British English:
They will vastly appreciate it and will cooperate with you more fully. As a teacher, you must be able to think fast and adjust lesson plans as the occasion demands.
Dude, the internet is vastly full of people who know more than you and have called your bluff. (Source: ft86club.com)
I had plenty of time and did not need to stick to a schedule - if the train was vastly late (i.e. more than three hours late) it did not bother or worry me, or interfere with my plans. (Source: NYC reviewer on TripAdvisor)
The account of coercion here is vastly oversimplified.
This is a vastly complex issue.