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From flat +‎ -ly.



flatly (comparative more flatly, superlative most flatly)

  1. In a physically flat or level manner.
    • 1938, Norman Lindsay, Age of Consent, Sydney: Ure Smith, published 1962, page 214:
      He bent over the old woman again, with his ear turned flatly to her lips and then to the region of her heart.
    • 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.
  2. In a definite manner; in a manner showing complete certainty.
    It was an accusation that he flatly denied.
  3. In a manner that shows no emotion.
    He replied flatly to the policeman's questions.
    • 1946, George Johnston, Skyscrapers in the Mist, page 119:
      "Sure you never heard of him?" he asked incredulously. "Never," I said flatly.
    • 1966, James Workman, The Mad Emperor, Melbourne, Sydney: Scripts, page 65:
      "It's barbarous, Norsus." "It's Rome," said the giant flatly.

Usage notes[edit]

  • 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.