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My expertise is in math & science, not grammar. For mathematicians, 'thus' is generally seen as a synonym for 'therefore'. If I were to write, "The equation should be written thus:", most would tend to interpret this as "The equation should be written therefore:". On the other hand, if I were to write, "The equation should be written thusly:", this would be interpreted as "The equation should be written as follows:". In this case, is 'thus' still considered preferable to 'thusly'? This is now just a matter of curiosity since I think I've already decided to replace 'thusly' with 'as follows'.

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3 Answers 3

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thus
adverb literary or formal

  1. As a result or consequence of this; therefore:
    'Burke knocked out Byrne, thus becoming champion'
    Synonyms: consequently, as a consequence, in consequence, thereby, so, that being so, therefore, ergo, accordingly, hence, as a result, for that reason, ipso facto, because of that, on that account

  2. In the manner now being indicated or exemplified; in this way:
    'she phoned Susan, and while she was thus engaged, Charles summoned the doctor'
    Synonyms: like that, in that way, so, like so

  3. [as submodifier] To this point; so:
    'the website has been cracked three times thus far'
    Synonyms: so far, until now, up until now, up to now, up to this point, hitherto

thusly
adverb informal

  • Another term for thus (sense 2).
    'the review was conducted thusly'

The definitions quoted above indicate that:

  • thusly is a synoym of only one meaning/usage of the word thus, namely the meaning "In the manner now being indicated or exemplified; in this way" (sense 2). This would seem to equate to your desired meaning of "as follows".

  • thusly is not a synoym of thus when used to mean "therefore" (sense 1).

So, yes, you could use thusly to mean "as follows", but — as you suggest — in your particular situation, it is probably better to use an alternative expression.

Personally, I would say that thusly is obscure and rarely used (at least in British English) these days.

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"thus" has various meanings, one of which is synonymous with "therefore", and another meaning "like this" or "in this way".

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/thus

  1. In this manner: Lay the pieces out thus. See Usage Note at thusly.
  2. To a stated degree or extent; so.
  3. Therefore; consequently: Thus it was necessary for me to resign.
  4. For example: Few of the nation's largest cities are state capitals; thus neither New York nor Chicago is the seat of its state's government.

"The equation should be written thus" is an example of the "in this way" meaning, not "therefore", and we can see this in your example sentence, which is plainly wrong: we would not write "The equation should be written therefore:"

thusly is a colloquial usage of "thus" without any additional meaning, and should be avoided unless you deliberately want it to look like it was written hundreds of years ago.

EDIT: with reference to your last point, about using "as follows" instead of "thus": Personally I think that "as follows" is clearer.

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From looking at the Oxford English Dictionary entries for "thus" and "thusly"—which are behind a paywall, as is the entire online OED—I can tell you the following. The first documented usage of "thusly" occurs in 1865 in the New York-based Harper's Magazine. "Thusly", like "thus", is an adverb, and a synonym for one of the older documented usages of "thus", "In this way, like this," but not for "In accordance with this; accordingly, and so; consequently; therefore."

So, while you're correct in saying that "thusly" isn't synonymous with "therefore," "thus" already can mean "In the following manner; as follows; in these words." Moreover, since "thusly" was first constructed by adding the adverbial "-ly" suffix to "thus," this, I want to speculate, probably happened as a form of hypercorrection, as a way of making the adverb "thus" appear even more like an adverb. So stay away from "thusly," not because it's too florid or non-standard, but because compared to "thus" it's grammatically redundant.

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  • The other answers here indicate that thus and thusly do not "both mean the same thing" in all cases; although they do have the meaning "as follows" or "in this way" in common.
    – TrevorD
    Jun 13, 2016 at 17:16
  • Thanks, it seems you're right. I've rewritten my entire answer to make that clear.
    – tirocinium
    Jun 13, 2016 at 17:57

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