[ air-ee ]

adjectiveChiefly Midland and Southern U.S.
  1. any; anyone.

  2. none, not any; nary.

Origin of ary

First recorded in 1810–20; alteration of e'er a ever a, in sense “any”

Other definitions for -ary (2 of 2)


  1. a suffix occurring originally in loanwords from Classical and Medieval Latin, on adjectives (elementary; honorary; stationary; tributary), personal nouns (actuary; notary; secretary), or nouns denoting objects, especially receptacles or places (library; rosary; glossary). The suffix has the general sense “pertaining to, connected with” the referent named by the base; it is productive in English, sometimes with the additional senses “contributing to,” “for the purpose of,” and usually forming adjectives: complimentary; visionary; revolutionary; inflationary.

Origin of -ary

Middle English -arie, from Latin -ārius, -a, -um; English personal nouns reflect -ārius, while objects and places reflect -ārium or -āria. Inherited and adopted French forms of this suffix are -er2, -eer, -ier2, -aire; cf. -er1 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use ary in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for -ary


  1. (forming adjectives) of; related to; belonging to: cautionary; rudimentary

  2. (forming nouns)

    • a person connected with or engaged in: missionary

    • a thing relating to; a place for: commentary; aviary

Origin of -ary

from Latin -ārius, -āria, -ārium

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