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I'm looking for an adverb that means an action is done with some hope, but with not much expectation of success. Gamely is the closest I've come.

Example: She dug ___ly into the ground, hoping the pipe was there, even though it really could have been anywhere.

Example: I installed the dubiously-sourced component into the circuit, screwed all the terminals tight, and flipped the switch ___ly.

Example: Pat was pretty sure the bank account had gotten zeroed. Still, he ___ly shoved the cash machine card into the slot.

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  • 3
    'Hope' itself lacks certainty. It is just hope. (Until hope turns to reality.) One can be unhopeful, or hopeless; which seem, grammatically, to mean the same thing, apparently. If there is, as above, 'some hope' then the thing is done hopefully. – Nigel J Dec 5 '17 at 4:30
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    If you don't mind recasting: Pat ... zeroed. Still, he went through the motions and shoved the cash machine card into the slot. Or: Pat .. zeroed. Still, never say never. On the off chance [on a long shot], he shoved the cash machine card into the slot. – aparente001 Dec 5 '17 at 5:24
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    You're vainly waiting for an answer that ideally addresses the question. – bp. Dec 5 '17 at 7:45
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    I would flip that switch gingerly. – Spehro Pefhany Dec 5 '17 at 8:59
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    It's interesting that dubiously is already used in the question. It might be the best fit. – D Krueger Dec 5 '17 at 13:31

18 Answers 18

9

You could use wishfully

From dictionary.com

having or showing a wish; desirous; longing.

Maybe not the exact definition you are looking for, but used in the context of the sentences you provided, I think it would work

  • "Wistfully" would also be close, with somewhat different connotation. – Scott Seidman Dec 5 '17 at 11:53
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    That's definitely in the same vein, but I think it's more about looking back on something. It's a great word though! – spoon Dec 5 '17 at 19:02
8

You could try optimistically

Vocabulary.com says:

An optimistic person thinks the best possible thing will happen, and hopes for it even if it's not likely.

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    In this particular case, I would go for 'overoptimistically', on the basis that optimistic at least implies that it might be possible - but I don't think that is significantly different from your answer. – Lee Leon Dec 5 '17 at 10:56
6

Another possible option is "speculatively".

(1) in a way that is based on guessing or on opinions that have been formed without knowing all the facts; (2) in a way that shows that you are trying to guess something

oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com

6

vainly:

Courtesy of Google

adverb: in a way that produces no result; to no avail.


Example: She dug vainly into the ground, hoping the pipe was there, even though it really could have been anywhere.

Example: I installed the dubiously-sourced component into the circuit, screwed all the terminals tight, and flipped the switch vainly.

Example: Pat was pretty sure the bank account had gotten zeroed. Still, he vainly shoved the cash machine card into the slot.

5

That's a good question. I can't think of an adverb that will fulfil the requirement here, however, you could use hoping against hope or a similar phrase to denote a hopeful action where the subject understands there's realistically no positive outcome.

So, considering your examples, replacing _____ly with ",hoping against hope[,]" would satisfy your intended meaning.

4

You could try "forlornly", defn:

  1. (of an aim or endeavour) unlikely to succeed or be fulfilled.
4

Perhaps try tentatively? It means without certainty and a lack of confidence but still has the connotation of an attempt at something.

Merriam-Webster says:

1 : not fully worked out or developed tentative plans

2 : hesitant, uncertain a tentative smile

3

I am not sure if this is what your are looking for but I might use the word "Halfheartedly"

  • 1
    Welcome to English Language & Usage! We're looking for long answers that provide some explanation and context. Please explain why your answer is right, ideally with citations. Answers that don't include explanations may be removed. – NVZ Dec 5 '17 at 7:32
  • It's a good word, btw. – Carl Dec 5 '17 at 8:08
2

Timidly was the first word that came to mind

In a manner that shows a lack of courage or confidence.

Oxford Dictionary

Example: She dug timidly into the ground, hoping the pipe was there, even though it really could have been anywhere.

Example: I installed the dubiously-sourced component into the circuit, screwed all the terminals tight, and flipped the switch timidly.

Example: Pat was pretty sure the bank account had gotten zeroed. Still, he timidly shoved the cash machine card into the slot.

2

I would go with futile it is defined as:

(of actions) having no effect or achieving nothing

It's a little messy but I think it's probably the best word given the context.

She dug with great futility into the ground, hoping the pipe was there, even though it really could have been anywhere.

2

I would use the word skeptically in your examples.

Dictionary.com defines skeptical as:

inclined to skepticism; having an attitude of doubt

That "attitude of doubt" fits with your requirement of having a bit of hope but not much expectation of success.

1

naïvely

She dug naïvely into the ground, hoping the pipe was there, even though it really could have been anywhere.

This works great if she expects to find it, despite its randomness. It works less great if she is aware of the probability, in which case I invent for you: hail-maryingly, or simply, desperately.

Pat was pretty sure the bank account had gotten zeroed. Still, he desperately shoved the cash machine card into the slot.

It does appear to be an act of desperation.

1

The word that came to mind for me is unexpectantly, but I'm having trouble confirming this an actual word. However, dictionary.com does include it in its list of adverb forms of expectant, along with half-expectantly and nonexpectantly, which might also be of interest.

0

Being 'almost without hope' is pretty close to being "cynical", or "despondent". They don't mean completely hopeless, but (Merriam-Webster):

feeling or showing extreme discouragement, dejection, or depression

0

Pollyannaish means unreasonably or illogically optimistic. So I presume we can make pollyannaishly.

0

I thought of

eagerly

As impatience sometimes is a mix of hope and fear of not fulfilling such hope.

-2

Maybe 'unlikely'? I like 'optimistically' as well!

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    "unlikely" does not fit the sentence structure OP provided. – Ian Dec 5 '17 at 6:49
-2

Perhaps "reticently"? It's not precise, but could convey your meaning.

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    The word "reticent" has to do with expressing one's thoughts and emotions. It has nothing to do with false hope. – MackTuesday Dec 5 '17 at 16:22
  • Can't say I agree. Being reticent has to do with expressing one's thoughts and emotions just as being hopeful, sad or happy does. It may be reluctance to express, but it is an expression in itself. – gitlinggun Dec 6 '17 at 19:24

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