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Pick your "-lily" adverbs with care.

When John Henry Newman wrote "Lead, Kindly Light" at sea on June 16 1833, he didn't mispunctuate, intending "Lead Kindly, Light". How can one say this with confidence 170 years later? Very simply, because we know that Newman would never had been guilty of such a syntactical faux pas. Instead, he would have had to write "Lead Kindlily, Light", sacrificing sound to sense.

In their Dictionary of Modern English Usage, the brothers Fowler had an interesting article about adverbs such as this, which they dubbed "-lily adverbs".

A great many adverbs are formed from other words by simply appending "-ly". However, when an adjective ending in "-ly" is to be used in an adverbial sense, the rules of word formation require that the "y" be suppressed and an "-ily" be appended: thus, kindly to kindlily.

How often does this happen? Not frequently enough to draw a great deal of attention today, it seems, and yet there are abundant opportunities for it to occur. On the Internet, at "Adjectives ending in -ly", one finds many, including those on the following preferred list:
 bodily burly chilly comely costly courtly dastardly deadly deathly
 disorderly early frilly friendly ghastly goodly gravelly grisly
 heavenly hilly holy homely jolly kindly knurly leisurely likely
 lively lonely lovely lowly mannerly mealy measly melancholy oily
 only orderly otherworldly pearly pebbly pimply scaly shapely sickly
 silly slatternly slovenly sly spindly sprightly squiggly stately
 steely surly treacly ugly ungainly unlikely wily wooly worldly

To these are added derivatives from human nouns
 authorly beastly brotherly cowardly fatherly gentlemanly
 granddaughterly housekeeperly husbandly kingly landlordly manly
 marksmanly matronly miserly motherly neighborly queenly saintly
 scholarly wifely womanly, etc.

as well as simple derivatives from time or direction words
 daily easterly hourly monthly nightly northeasterly northerly
 northwesterly quarterly rarely southerly timely weekly westerly
 wobbly yearly, etc.

and simple derivatives from verbs
 bristly bubbly crinkly crumbly crumply cuddly curly frizzly giggly
 rumply smelly sparkly wriggly wrinkly

My favorite "-lily adverb" stems [no pun intended] from the adjective easterly, as in "easterly wind". Convert it to an adverb and what do you get? Easterlily, of course!


Seattle, Washington
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Author:Henrick, John J.
Publication:Word Ways
Date:Nov 1, 2003
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