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- In a physically flat or level manner.
- 1980, Margaret Drabble, The Middle Ground:
- Rabbit country, the working man's uncultivable terrain. Half a mile away, square open patches of yellow sand flatly glittered, and far on the horizon cranes and vast silver cylinders stood about, ghostly shining inhabitants of the marsh.
- In a definite manner; in a manner showing complete certainty.
- It was an accusation that he flatly denied.
- In a manner that shows no emotion.
- He replied flatly to the policeman's questions.
- 1966, James Workman, The Mad Emperor, Melbourne, Sydney: Scripts, page 65:
- "It's barbarous, Norsus." "It's Rome," said the giant flatly.
- In sense 2 the collocation is nearly always with a negative idea. To flatly deny. To flatly refuse. To flatly contradict. And so on, similarly.
in a manner showing complete certainty