A. adj. (determiner). Usually with a singular noun.
1. Neither; not a, not a single
; no. Freq. in nary one
. Occas. with a plural noun.
nary cent n. = nary red n. nary red n. U.S. not a cent, no money.
1746 N. WRIGHT Jrnl. 6 Aug. in New-Eng. Historical & Geneal. Reg. (1848) II. 209 The Indians..escaped them, and there was no ‘spile dunne on nary side
’. 1821 Mass. Spy 14 Feb., He asked her whether she was most fond of writing prose or poetry. ‘Nary one,’
says she, ‘I writes small hand.’ 1848 J. R. LOWELL Biglow Papers 2nd Ser. ii, Nary sounds but watch-dogs' false alarms. 1849 Picayune (New Orleans) 6 May 2/6 I'm goin' tew get my breakfuss yere, and not pay ‘nary red’
till I dew! 1856 ‘J. PHOENIX’ Phoenixiana 125 Playin at billiards and monte Till they've nary red cent to ante. 1863 W. H. RUSSELL My Diary North & South I. 168 Another..replied to the demand for so many thousand soldiers, ‘Nary one.’ 1893 J. H. MCCARTHY Red Diamonds I. 65 We hadn't nary cent
to work it with. 1956 N. ALGREN Walk on Wild Side II. 252 Of course it must be yours because you got all the knowance of books and I got nary knowance
at all. 1989 R. KENAN Visitation of Spirits (1996) 147 It won't hurt nary one of you.2. Preceding a or an in a noun phrase. Freq. in nary a one.
nary a red n. = nary red n. at sense A. 1.
1856 Knickerbocker 47 99 ‘Aint you gwine for to give us three dollars?’ ‘Nary a red!’ sung out Hart. 1892 J. K. LAWSON Vain Sacrifice 175 Nary a daughter nor a son has poor ould Dan. 1917 ‘H. H. RICHARDSON’ Fortunes Richard Mahony IV. x. 379 She would discover a thousand drawbacks to his scheme, but nary a one of the incorporeal benefits he dreamed of reaping from it. 1920 E. O'NEILL Beyond Horizon I. ii. 36 They've been thick as thieves all their lives, with nary a quarrel I kin remember. 1941 Time 6 Jan. 16/1 From the National Defense Advisory Commission,..there was nary a peep. 1990 Weekend Austral. 21-2 Apr. 12/5 When the cinema projectors finally flicker into life..nary a citizen of the United States will be left untouched.
B. adv. As an emphatic negative:
not, not at all, in no way; neither; not even.
1895 S. CRANE Red Badge of Courage x. 102 There's too much depending on me fer me t' die yit. No, sir! Nary die; I can't! 1934 Z. GREY Code of West viii. 145 Wess, nary you or any of the boys figger my sawmill hand correct. 1977 T. MURPHY Famine i. 13 Mark: That's what you'd call the ghostly fog... We had nothing like that this year... Brian: No faith now, we had narys the fog
. 1995 Empire Nov. 30/2 There's nary two scraps
of tuck to rub together, so how come there's a hundred weight of fags?