1. in a high degree; extremely; exceedingly: A giant is very tall.
  2. (used as an intensive emphasizing superlatives or stressing identity or oppositeness): the very best thing; in the very same place as before.

adjective, (Obsolete) ver·i·er, ver·i·est.

  1. precise; particular: That is the very item we want.
  2. mere: The very thought of it is distressing.
  3. sheer; utter: He wept from the very joy of knowing he was safe.
  4. actual: He was caught in the very act of stealing.
  5. being such in the true or fullest sense of the term; extreme: the very heart of the matter.
  6. true; genuine; worthy of being called such: the very God; a very fool.
  7. rightful or legitimate.


  1. (intensifier) used to add emphasis to adjectives that are able to be gradedvery good; very tall

adjective (prenominal)

  1. (intensifier) used with nouns preceded by a definite article or possessive determiner, in order to give emphasis to the significance, appropriateness or relevance of a noun in a particular context, or to give exaggerated intensity to certain nounsthe very man I want to see; his very name struck terror; the very back of the room
  2. (intensifier) used in metaphors to emphasize the applicability of the image to the situation describedhe was a very lion in the fight
  3. archaic
    1. real or true; genuinethe very living God
    2. lawfulthe very vengeance of the gods

mid-13c., verray “true, real, genuine,” later “actual, sheer” (late 14c.), from Anglo-French verrai, Old French verai “true,” from Vulgar Latin *veracus, from Latin verax (genitive veracis) “truthful,” from verus “true,” from PIE *weros- (cf. Old English wær “a compact,” Old Dutch, Old High German war, Dutch waar, German wahr “true;” Welsh gwyr, Old Irish fir “true;” Old Church Slavonic vera “faith”). Meaning “greatly, extremely” is first recorded mid-15c. Used as a pure intensive since Middle English.

In addition to the idioms beginning with very

  • very thing, the
  • very well

also see:

  • all very well
  • what’s the (the very) idea

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