The Oxford English Dictionary (subscription required or a library card number in the UK) has the following entry for 'very' used as an adjective or an adverb :

Forms: α. Middle English (1500s Scottish) verray (Middle English verrai, verraie, 1500s ... (Show More) Frequency (in current use): Show frequency band information Etymology: < Anglo-Norman verrai, verrey, verai, veray, Old French verai, varai, vrai... (Show More)

I. That is in truth or reality, and related uses; true, faithful.

  1. Really or truly entitled to the name or designation; possessing the true character of the person or thing named; properly so called or designated; = true adj. 7.

But I was unable to discover if the derivation of 'very' has roots which would link it to 'verily' and 'verity' both of which emphasise truth.

I wondered if 'very' means 'truly', in its original concept.

  • 1
    There is also the usage "The very thing." It still does mean "truly". Sep 14, 2021 at 8:52
  • 3
    OED etymologies for verily and verity both mention very.
    – Andrew Leach
    Sep 14, 2021 at 9:08
  • etymonline.com and the OED say very, verity, verily all come (by varying routes) from Latin verus meaning "true", so I'm not sure why you're asking this question. What isn't clear about the etymologies?
    – Stuart F
    Sep 14, 2021 at 10:23
  • @StuartF Thank you for that information. Feel free to record it in an answer. Regards.
    – Nigel J
    Sep 14, 2021 at 10:31
  • 1
    Here, required research would be looking up 'verily' in Etymon etc. Sep 14, 2021 at 10:57

1 Answer 1


They share common etymology.

The etymology of "very" as given on Wiktionary

From Middle English verray, verrai (“true”), from Old French verai (“true”) (Modern French vrai), from assumed Vulgar Latin vērācus, alteration of Latin vērāx (“truthful”), from vērus (“true”), ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *weh₁- (“true, benevolent”).

See also the Online Etymology Dictionary:

verily (adv.)

"in truth," early 14c., from Middle English verray "true, real" (see very) + -ly (2).

  • Given the etymology from "verax" and the related words "veritable", "verify" and so on perhaps the more interesting question is when and how "very" came to mean "extreme" as well as "true".
    – BoldBen
    Sep 15, 2021 at 8:25

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