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[ver-ee] /ˈvɛr i/
in a high degree; extremely; exceedingly:
A giant is very tall.
(used as an intensive emphasizing superlatives or stressing identity or oppositeness):
the very best thing; in the very same place as before.
adjective, (Obsolete) verier, veriest.
precise; particular:
That is the very item we want.
The very thought of it is distressing.
sheer; utter:
He wept from the very joy of knowing he was safe.
He was caught in the very act of stealing.
being such in the true or fullest sense of the term; extreme:
the very heart of the matter.
true; genuine; worthy of being called such:
the very God; a very fool.
rightful or legitimate.
Origin of very
1200-50; Middle English < Anglo-French; Old French verai (French vrai) < Vulgar Latin *vērācus, for Latin vērāx truthful, equivalent to vēr(us) true (cognate with Old English wǣr, German wahr true, correct) + -āx adj. suffix
Can be confused
much, very (see usage note at the current entry)
5. pure, simple, plain.
Usage note
Past participles that have become established as adjectives can, like most English adjectives, be modified by the adverb very: a very driven person; We were very concerned for your safety. Very does not modify past participles that are clearly verbal; for example, The lid was very sealed is not an idiomatic construction, while The lid was very tightly sealed is. Sometimes confusion arises over whether a given past participle is adjectival and thus able to be modified by very without an intervening adverb. However, there is rarely any objection to the use of this intervening adverb, no matter how the past participle is functioning. Such use often occurs in edited writing: We were very much relieved to find the children asleep. They were very greatly excited by the news. I feel very badly cheated. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for very
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Those less than the very best frankly esteem it a privilege.

    The Spenders Harry Leon Wilson
  • There are quiet and very decent places for those of us that must.

    The Spenders Harry Leon Wilson
  • My very blood boiled in my veins, that such an one as he could give me pain.

    Philothea Lydia Maria Child
  • The very spirit of harmony is embodied in the proportions of the Parthenon.

    Philothea Lydia Maria Child
  • Besides, it is very possible that you are unjust to Hipparete.

    Philothea Lydia Maria Child
British Dictionary definitions for very


(intensifier) used to add emphasis to adjectives that are able to be graded: very good, very tall
adjective (prenominal)
(intensifier) used with nouns preceded by a definite article or possessive determiner, in order to give emphasis to the significance, appropriateness or relevance of a noun in a particular context, or to give exaggerated intensity to certain nouns: the very man I want to see, his very name struck terror, the very back of the room
(intensifier) used in metaphors to emphasize the applicability of the image to the situation described: he was a very lion in the fight
  1. real or true; genuine: the very living God
  2. lawful: the very vengeance of the gods
Usage note
In strict usage adverbs of degree such as very, too, quite, really, and extremely are used only to qualify adjectives: he is very happy; she is too sad. By this rule, these words should not be used to qualify past participles that follow the verb to be, since they would then be technically qualifying verbs. With the exception of certain participles, such as tired or disappointed, that have come to be regarded as adjectives, all other past participles are qualified by adverbs such as much, greatly, seriously, or excessively: he has been much (not very) inconvenienced; she has been excessively (not too) criticized
Word Origin
C13: from Old French verai true, from Latin vērax true, from vērus true
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for very

mid-13c., verray "true, real, genuine," later "actual, sheer" (late 14c.), from Anglo-French verrai, Old French verai "true," from Vulgar Latin *veracus, from Latin verax (genitive veracis) "truthful," from verus "true," from PIE *weros- (cf. Old English wær "a compact," Old Dutch, Old High German war, Dutch waar, German wahr "true;" Welsh gwyr, Old Irish fir "true;" Old Church Slavonic vera "faith"). Meaning "greatly, extremely" is first recorded mid-15c. Used as a pure intensive since Middle English.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Idioms and Phrases with very
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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