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Word of the Week: Really

Posted by Simon Parke, 09 January 2023, 3.43pm

My word of the week is Really.

It comes from the real – ‘No shit, Sherlock!’ - and means ‘in actual fact’.

But sometimes it’s really unnecessary, as in this sentence.

It’s adding nothing here because either it is necessary or it isn’t. Adding really to the sentence is like someone raising their voice because their argument is weak or entirely unbelievable.

It all feels a bit insecure and it can be very irritating.

And there’s the cousin of really - very. There’s no need for the very in that sentence. Either it is irritating or it isn’t.

As Jesus said, in one of his greatest lines, ‘let your yes be yes and your no be no.’

There’s no need to swear an oath that what you are about to say is true. And saying really or very doesn’t make it more so.

In other words, we can rely on the simple truth of what we say, on the fact of what we say, without resort to hysterical pleading.

It can be difficult to calm our language down. I wanted to say it can be really difficult, but that would be me being insecure again.

And as our language calms, perhaps we will also calm. We will trust our experience, trust our truth and become more believable in the process.

But before we go, really has another use.

Sometimes it is used with a question mark – and probably in italics - to create a climate of disdain. This can work in a number of situations. 

Like with those who still claim ‘Brexit is working.’

Or the church saying ‘Gay clergy may co-habit but must abstain from sexual relationship.’

Or anyone saying, ‘Least said, soonest mended.’


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