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See also: reälly, re-ally, and real-ly


Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English really, realy, rialliche, equivalent to real +‎ -ly.

Alternative forms[edit]


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈɹɪə.li/, [ˈɹʷɪə̯lɪ], [-li], [ˈɹʷɪː-]
  • (US) IPA(key): /ˈɹɪli/, /ˈɹili/, /ˈɹi.əli/
    • (file)
  • (New Zealand) IPA(key): /ˈɹɪə.liː/, [ˈɹʷeə̯ɫiː], [ˈɹʷiə̯-]
  • (obsolete), IPA(key): /ˈɹeɪlɪ/[1]
  • Hyphenation: re‧al‧ly, real‧ly
  • Rhymes: -iːli


really (comparative more really, superlative most really)

  1. (literal) In a way or manner that is real, not unreal.
    • 1751, John Roche, Moravian Heresy, page 168:
      We are to believe that by an extraordinary Conception by Means of the holy Ghost he in an extraordinary MANNER, (unknown to us) really assumed Flesh, and was by her nourished in the Womb and in due Time born in a natural Manner, and that whilst on Earth he was really hungry, and dry, and eat and drank as really as other Men, without, any Deception of Sight in us or Delusion whatsoever.
    • 1878, Jonathan Baldwin Turner, Christ's Words as Related to Science,..., page 52:
      If we take the phenomenal world as it strikes our senses, in all its varied and wonderful powers and aspects; as the mere symbol of the Divine Presence and power, that is, according to Christ, ever in, through, and over all, as really as are causal light, heat and gravity, or as really as our own life and souls pervade every atom of our bodies, [...]
    • 1975, Robin H. S. Boyd, An introduction to Indian Christian theology, page 48:
      Thus Brahman must be described as ‘really real’, while a rope, or a person, or God Himself, is ‘unreally real’. And it is only the Vedantin who can distinguish the real from the unreal, for to others all seems real.
  2. (modal) Actually; in fact; in reality.
    "He really is a true friend." / "Really? What makes you so sure?"
  3. (informal, as an intensifier) Very (modifying an adjective); very much (modifying a verb).
    But ma, I really, really want to go to the show!
    • 1918, W[illiam] B[abington] Maxwell, chapter X, in The Mirror and the Lamp, Indianapolis, Ind.: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, →OCLC:
      It was a joy to snatch some brief respite, and find himself in the rectory drawing–room. Listening here was as pleasant as talking; just to watch was pleasant. The young priests who lived here wore cassocks and birettas; their faces were fine and mild, yet really strong, like the rector's face; and in their intercourse with him and his wife they seemed to be brothers.
    • 1977, Agatha Christie, chapter 4, in An Autobiography, part II, London: Collins, →ISBN:
      There was also hairdressing: hairdressing, too, really was hairdressing in those times — no running a comb through it and that was that. It was curled, frizzed, waved, put in curlers overnight, waved with hot tongs; [].
Usage notes[edit]
  • Like its synonyms, really is, in practice, often used to preface an opinion, rather than a fact. (See also usage notes for actually.)
Increasingly people are recognising what's really important is having children.[2]
Alternative forms[edit]
  • (in a way or manner that is real, not unreal): real-ly
Derived terms[edit]



  1. (informal) Indicating surprise at, or requesting confirmation of, some new information; to express skepticism.
    A: He won the Nobel Prize yesterday.
    B: Really?
    1. (informal, by extension) A phatic confirmation by a listener, to signal active listening; mostly devoid of literal meaning, with the phatically contrived incredulity being merely formulaic.
      A: You know, I saw Oliver the other day.
      B: Really? What's he been up to?
      • 1979 November 4, William Safire, “On Language [column]”, in New York Times[3]:
        "Literally" is not the only word that has lost touch with reality: look at "really." That word also was meant to describe a state of reality, or literalness. Even as a substitute for "Is that so?," the word asked, "Is that true, or real?" Nowadays, one guy goes, "I literally flew off the handle," and the other guy goes "Really." It's a grunt, meaning, "I'm still here."
  2. (informal, sarcastic, typically exaggerated question.) Indicating that what was just said was obvious and unnecessary; contrived incredulity
    A: I've just been reading Shakespeare - he's one of the best authors like, ever!
    B: Really.
  3. (informal, chiefly US) Indicating affirmation, agreement.
    A: That girl talks about herself way too much.
    B: Really. She's a nightmare.
  4. (informal) Indicating displeasure at another person's behaviour or statement.
    Well, really! How rude.
Usage notes[edit]

For the phatic sense, alternatives such as wow or gosh avoid a miscue whereby a speaker mistakes an active listener's really for genuine surprise or incredulity.

The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.


  1. ^ Bingham, Caleb (1808), “Improprieties in Pronunciation, common among the people of New-England”, in The Child's Companion; Being a Conciſe Spelling-book [] [1], 12th edition, Boston: Manning & Loring, →OCLC, page 76.
  2. ^ Marriner, C (15-01-2005), “The Sydney Morning Herald article 'When men turn clucky'”, in (please provide the title of the work)[2], The Sydney Morning Herald, retrieved 2009-04-12

Etymology 2[edit]

re- +‎ ally


really (third-person singular simple present reallies, present participle reallying, simple past and past participle reallied)

  1. Alternative form of re-ally
    • 1917, German American Annals, page 69:
      She wished since long to die and to be reallied with her children in heaven.
    • 1997, Warren F. Kuehl, Lynne Dunn, Keeping the Covenant: American Internationalists and the League of Nations, 1920-1939, Kent State University Press, →ISBN, page 19:
      Following the election, those who had publicly opposed Harding hastened to really themselves with Republicans who had remained in the party.