In the blog post "We are rewarding the Question Askers", the following phrase appears:

For those of you that are getting new privileges: we ask you to take the responsibility reverently.

Reverently !?!

I have never encountered reverent or reverently in such a context. One can be reverent at a religious service; at a death bed; in the presence of nature; visiting a national monument of great historical significance (e.g., Valley Forge); for a Japanese person, meeting the Emperor; for an American (or indeed anyone), reading about Harriet Tubman — this is only a partial list.

But reverent about a asking a question on SE?

According to Merriam Webster:

Definition: Worshipful

History and Etymology for reverent Middle English, borrowed from Anglo-French, borrowed from Latin reverent-, reverens, present participle of reverērī "to stand in awe of, REVERE entry 1"

And, Merriam Webster defines revere as:

to show devoted deferential honor to : regard as worthy of great honor

I no longer have access to the OED, so maybe there is an old, old usage of reverent that could be stretched to writing a question on SE, and if so, I'd like to know about it. But until I do, my reaction is that of Scrooge to Christmas.

  • You can handle an icon or relic or ashes of your deceased grandma, etc reverently, as a holy object due care and respect and a little fear. You wouldn’t drop it, disrespect it, or handle it in a way others could perceive as disrespectful. It’s fine grammatically and semantically. It’s just a silly standard to apply in practical terms for the context.
    – Dan Bron
    Nov 17, 2019 at 20:53
  • It is probably used just to stress the suggested meaning : “in a very respectful way”.
    – user 66974
    Nov 17, 2019 at 21:02
  • 1
    @Dan Bron According to your penultimate sentence, "piscatorially" would be even finer, because you are fishing for an answer. :)
    – ab2
    Nov 17, 2019 at 21:03
  • 2
    It's a bit of a stretch, a little too metaphorical. What it makes me realize is that they're preaching to a deaf choir. The people who are being rewarded, the askers, are very likely never going to read that blog post or get any indication that they should feel rewarded more than they would have otherwise.
    – Mitch
    Nov 18, 2019 at 0:55
  • 2
    I pretty much agree. I thought the choice of adverb was ill-advised Nov 18, 2019 at 1:42

1 Answer 1


I don’t fully appreciate where the confusion resides. Are you thinking it only involves holy things not just respected things?

Reverently simply means in a reverent manner, with reverence — and per the OED reverence itself means:

  1. a. Deep or due respect felt or shown towards a person on account of his or her position, status, or relationship to oneself; deference. Now rare.
    In later use difficult to distinguish unambiguously from sense 1b.

    b. Deep respect, veneration, or admiration for someone or something, esp. a person or thing regarded as sacred or holy.

  2. a. The state or condition of being deeply respected or venerated; the quality of inspiring feelings of awe or veneration.

So the way it is used in your cited example it simply means “with deep respect”. There are no holy relics to be venerated here, no holy cows to be gored.

They do have a separate entry for reverently, but it says no more than:

In a reverent manner; with profound respect, veneration, or honour.

As with all these related Latinate ‑ent / ‑ently / ‑ence forms, reverently is a new concoction unknown to Old English, being first attested in the Middle English of the Wycliff Bible after 1382 and in Piers Ploughman perhaps of 1387.

Through derivational morphology, there are a humpty-gazillion more of such triples:

  • belligerently, in a belligerent manner, with belligerence
  • benevolently, in a benevolent manner, with benevolence
  • compliantly, in a compliant manner, with compliance
  • confidently, in a confident manner, with confidence
  • eloquently, in an eloquent manner, with eloquence
  • impatiently, in an impatient manner, with impatience, without patience
  • indignantly, in an indignant manner, with indignance
  • indolently, in an indolent manner, with indolence
  • ineloquently, in an ineloquent manner, with ineloquence, without eloquence
  • insouciantly, in an insouciant manner, with insouciance
  • intelligently, in an intelligent manner, with intelligence
  • irreverently, in an irreverent manner, with irreverence, without reverence
  • jubilantly, in a jubilant manner, with jubilance
  • magnificently, in a magnificent manner, with magnificence
  • negligently, in a negligent manner, with negligence
  • nonchalantly, in a nonchalant manner, with nonchalance
  • patiently, in a patient manner, with patience
  • penitently, in a penitent manner, with penitence
  • persistently, in a persistent manner, with persistence
  • petulantly, in a petulant manner, with petulance
  • plangently, in a plangent manner, with plangence
  • pruriently, in a prurient manner, with prurience
  • reluctantly, in a reluctany manner, with reluctance
  • significantly, in a significant manner, with significance
  • subserviently, in a subservient manner, with subservience
  • tolerantly, in a tolerant manner, with tolerance
  • truculently, in a truculent manner, with truculence

And many more besides.

  • 1
    No, I do not think revere can be used only about holy things. I might revere a professor, for example, who had helped me over a very bad patch, but not consider her/him in the least holy. My question would have been clearer had I not tried to be non-provocative. I think using revere and its derivatives about SE (or about, say Gourmet Magazine, or Amazon or a celebrity) is idiotic, and, in the case of SE explains a lot about The Mess.
    – ab2
    Nov 18, 2019 at 2:11

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