When President Obama said-- lyingly-- that “if you like your plan, you can keep your plan,” his party ultimately paid for it. A reasonably competent Democratic Party, with something like the A.H.C.A. to run against, should be able to make Republicans pay dearly in their turn.

(From a recent New York Times opinion column by Ross Douthat)

I have a decent vocabulary, but lyingly is a word I've not read or heard much, until recently. I'm interested in having a better feel for how this adverb is used and has been used in the past.

I've looked it up in Oxford Living Dictionary and don't feel very enlightened, though I understand its basic meaning: in a deliberately untruthful manner, mendaciously. i also understand that It is formed by adding -ly to the participial adjective, lying and that this in turn is derived from the verb, to lie.

My question is threefold:

  1. Can you give me examples of other current usage and past usage of lyingly that might give me insight?

  2. How, if at all, has the meaning and usage of lyingly changed over time?

  3. Do you have any evidence that lyingly might be popular right now in the U.S. due to Trump's habits of promulgating "alternative facts"?

  • 1
    "Lying" can be an adjective ("your lying eyes", eg). Adding "-ly" to an adjective generally yields the associated adverb.
    – Hot Licks
    May 9, 2017 at 2:43
  • @HotLicks, I knew this, but it's a good reminder to put info like this in my question. I mostly wanted to know someone else's anecdotal perceptions and/or research about whether this adverb is suddenly more common .
    – user227547
    May 9, 2017 at 9:54

1 Answer 1


Oxford English Dictionary cites variants of "lyingly" as far back as early translations of the Bible.

a1382 Bible (Wycliffite, E.V.) (Douce 369(1)) (1850) Jer. vii. 8 To steln, to slen, to don auoutrie, to swern liendely, to offre to Baalym.

The spelling used in modern English is cited in 1682.

1682 Disc, Addresses or Presentm. to King 20 Their Popes (who go lyingly under the Name of Christ's Vicars).

Ngram seems to indicate that use, at least in books, has not increased in recent times, but in fact, has decreased since the 1980's.

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Newspapers.com also indicates that the word was most commonly used in print in the 1980's:

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Searching on news.google.com finds few results, so I suspect the term was used by Douthat to add color to her writing, rather than as part of a recent trend in use.

Why the term seemed to have been used more frequently in the 80's is an interesting question. It could have been a linguistic trend, or the result of one high-profile use that led other writers to use the term. It could also have been connected to political affairs at the time, though I couldn't find any patterns suggesting that.

  • thanks for the well-organized research. This is very helpful, though I can't access the OED entry, because I'm not a subscriber.That's interesting that "lyingly" was used more frequently in the 1980's. – Palizsche 6 mins ago
    – user227547
    May 9, 2017 at 9:57

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