Just as underwhelm/overwhelm exist without any usage of 'whelmed' (generally speaking) I'm wondering if there's any adverb ending in -ly without an adjectival counterpart (or that has dropped out of usage).

For example where 'he walked XYZly' is recognisable, correct, or common for this or some other time period; whilst 'his walk was XYZ' is not.

NB: I've found no other answers for this question elsewhere, and search engines usually lead to explanations of 'flat adverbs' not ending in -ly which is not what I'm asking.

  • 7
    'Early' seems to derive from a now obsolete adjective with added -ly suffix, but now fulfils the adjectival role as well. Jun 14, 2023 at 17:49
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    Only is another tenuous example, coming from "one" but pronounced quite differently.
    – Stuart F
    Jun 14, 2023 at 18:58
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    You are looking for -ly adverbs not derived from adjectives? To use the example by @EdwinAshworth — He walked weekly. *His walk was week. Like that? Jun 14, 2023 at 19:28
  • 1
    It's arguable that this question is asking for a list, but the 'over-broad in scope' CV-reason probably won't apply here as the list will be short. And the question does provide an opportunity to investigate word formation (especially affixation) and the morphology of word classes. Jun 15, 2023 at 11:28
  • 2
    Requests for lists are off-topic.
    – TimR
    Nov 23, 2023 at 0:13

5 Answers 5


Daily, weekly, monthly and so on are -ly adverbs with no corresponding ly-less adjectives (though of course the noun may be used attributively).

The adverbial usage of daily predates the adjectival, according to the Online Etymological Dictionary:

As an adverb, "every day, day by day," early 15c. (the Old English adverb was dghwamlice. As a noun, "a daily newspaper," by 1832.

"happening or being every day," mid-15c.; see day + -ly (1). Compare Old English dglic, a form found in compounds

The -ly suffix is not only used to convert adjectives to adverbs (again, the Online Etymological Dictionary):

-ly (1) suffix forming adjectives from nouns and meaning

  • "having qualities of, of the form or nature of" (manly, lordly),
  • "appropriate to, fitting, suited to" (bodily, earthly, daily);

irregularly descended from Old English -lic, from Proto-Germanic *-liko- (Old Frisian -lik, Dutch -lijk, Old High German -lih, German -lich, Old Norse -ligr), related to *likom- "appearance, form" (Old English lich "corpse, body;" see lich, which is a cognate; see also like (adj.), with which it is identical)

Early seems to derive from a now obsolete adjective with added -ly suffix (this time converting adjective to adverb, -ly (2) to use Etymon's terminology), but now fulfils the adjectival role as well:

Early: from Old English ærlice "early, near the initial point of some reckoning in time," from ær "soon, ere" (see ere) + -lice, adverbial suffix (see -ly (2)).


Bodily, leisurely, brotherly, sisterly, motherly, fatherly, princely, womanly, heavenly, earthly, beastly, ghostly

When you remove the -ly, you are left with nouns, not adjectives; however, as Edwin Ashworth notes, the base nouns can be used attributively.

Bodily (adv.)

1 a In the flesh

1 b In a manner that involves physically moving someone's body

The blast lifted him bodily into the air.

Jerry Wexler called him a "parasite" and threw him bodily out of his office.—Jack Kroll

2 As a whole : altogether M-W

Leisurely (adv.)

Without haste : DELIBERATELY M-W

They walked leisurely arm-in-arm down one side of the street, and returned on the opposite side. C. Dickens; Little Dorrit

1964 R. Robinson Atheist's Values ii. 157 We are brothers without a father; let us all the more for that behave brotherly to each other. [OED]

2005 B. Connor Dead Secret xxiii. 173 There weren't that many times during their childhood that they had acted sisterly toward each other. [OED]

2005 P. Perry Romance of Lifetime xxxi. 172 He was princely dressed in a black suit, and a cream-colored polo sweater. [OED]

2004 T. E. Barlow Question of Women in Chinese Feminism ii. 45 Learning to behave virtuously, and acting womanly [OED].

2000 Chatham (Ont.) Daily News (Nexis) 11 Dec. 8 The taste is worth it..heavenly delicious on a cold winter day! [OED]

Queenly (adv.)

Chiefly poetic [OED]

Friendly (adv.)

Now chiefly U.S. colloquial

2011 D. Goldman & K. Abraham Father's Love vi. 57 We can do this together and do it friendly, but if you are not going to come here, things are going to change. [OED]

Earthly (adv.)

In an earthly manner; on earth, in the earth.

2004 P. Chintapalli Believer Warrior 45 Since body is created from the earthly elements it is reasonable to keep replenishing it using earthly grown herbs and fruits.[OED]

Ghostly (adv.)

In a ghostly or ghost-like manner; like a ghost

2016 C. E. Morgan Sport of Kings ii. 176 A series of yellowed shots of a coal train passing by the photographer, the images shaky and ghostly blurred [OED]

Beastly (adv.)

Chiefly British. Modifying an adjective or adverb. Now colloquial and somewhat old-fashioned or humorous; sometimes regarded as characteristic of upper-class speech.

... Later (in weakened sense): unpleasantly, objectionably; (hence as an intensifier in negative contexts) dreadfully, awfully, terribly

2000 A. DeWolfe Always her Hero viii. 214 Beastly boring, that's what growing up is. [OED]

Some adjectives ending in -ly were also adverbs and occasionally still make a guest appearance:

Comely (adv.)

[Old English cȳme fine, handsome, comely]

Somewhat archaic

2000 N.Y. Press 5 Apr. i. 1/6 All Glad's pavement princesses dress so comely in the most delicate silks from China. [OED]

Homely (adv.)

Now rare (colloquial in later use)

1971 G. Ewart Gavin Ewart Show i. 28 I am a bottle of wine..slup me rough and homely and I'll taste fine. [OED]

Manly (adv.)

Now rare (chiefly regional)

1990 T. McEwen McX (1991) iii. 126 McX strides manly to the pantry. [OED]

Lordly (adv.)

In the manner of a lord; nobly, illustriously; (also) arrogantly, haughtily, imperiously. Also in compounds, as lordly-dressed. Now chiefly poetic.

2002 Amer. Poetry Rev. July 40/2 The unsurpassed peace of a poem (and eye) to which poetry has lordly and lovingly come. [OED]

  • 4
    Those are all adjectives, no?
    – Griffin
    Jun 15, 2023 at 10:27
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    @Griffin Yes, but they are of interest here because they can also (sometimes rarely) function as adverbs and meet the OP's criteria.
    – DjinTonic
    Jun 15, 2023 at 11:05
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    The caveat 'somewhat archaic' is worthy of inclusion in a political thesaurus of noncommittal. Jun 15, 2023 at 11:12
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    @EdwinAshworth It struck me the same--you can trot it out once every leap year. How do you like your adverbs done? Rareish please.
    – DjinTonic
    Jun 15, 2023 at 11:14
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    Bodily as an adjective is common, as "a bodily function". (Over-euphemism for farting or crapping.) More generally all of these are their own adjectives, you just don't detach the -ly.
    – nigel222
    Jun 16, 2023 at 9:02

Jolly as an adverb (as in British English "jolly good") might count. It has an adjectival counterpart--the word "jolly" itself--but that adjectival counterpart isn't obtained by removing a "-ly" suffix to get "jol," and it doesn't have the same meaning as the adverb. Of course, this is because "jolly" is a flat adverb, rather than one derived from an adjective "jol" with a "-ly" suffix.

  • @EdwinAshworth I don't see where OP excludes that; maybe we've interpreted the question differently?
    – alphabet
    Jun 14, 2023 at 17:52
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    No, you're right. Jolly looks like it comes from jolif rather than jol + -ly. Early seems to derive from an obsolete adjective + -ly. Both would seem to fulfil OP's requirements; the fact that they're both also adjectives isn't relevant, as you say. Jun 14, 2023 at 17:56
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    Do you call very a flat adverb? I don’t. Jun 14, 2023 at 17:56
  • @Tinfoil Hat I've seen definitions that would include it, but I feel the term is best reserved for 'an adverb that has the same form as its related adjective' (M-W). Of course, some would say that the intensifier 'very' ('very big') is so related to the particularising adjective 'very' ('the very man'). Jun 14, 2023 at 18:03
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    @TinfoilHat There is/was verily as the adverb for one of the meanings of very.
    – Henry
    Jun 15, 2023 at 13:43


The only true example of this I can think of. Gingerly is definitely not an adjective and Ginger as a noun or an adjective has nothing to do with the meaning of the adverb form.


In general, if a word can be used to derive an adverb with an "-ly" suffix, the word may also be used to derive an adjective with a related meaning. While the adjective might use the same "-ly" suffix as the adverb (e.g. "weekly"), and while the formation of the adverb might involve some slight changes to the root word's spelling (e.g. "weary" becomes "wearily"), there are few "-ly" adverbs which aren't derived from a root word which forms the stem of an adjective with a related meaning.

The best example I can find is "swimmingly". Although its orthography obviously derives from "swimming", which can be used as an adjective, the adverb "swimmingly" is almost always used idiomatically to mean "splendidly" or "very well", while the adjective "swimming" is almost always used in connection to the literal act of swimming. Perhaps the adverb is shorthand for "in the manner of someone who is swimming in happiness", but the fact that "swimming" can be used in that metaphorical context doesn't imply that the word itself has any such connotations by itself. By contrast, the adverb "swimmingly" would almost never be used in reference to actual swimming.

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