-lily adverbs: one last attitudes survey

To put the final (well, almost final) touches on my study of usage guides and usage problems, I decided to have one more survey, on the acceptability of –lily adverbs. These are words like cowardlily, ghastlilyheavenlily, livelily, lovelily, lowlily, manlily, mannerlily, scholarlily and statelily, which several usage guides claim should be used since all adverbs should be marked by –ly, even if the adjective concerned already ends in –ly.

Microsoft Word, as I saw in the chapter I'(re)writing, only accepts the form livelily. What do readers of this blog think, are these forms acceptable or not? Please let me have your opinions, and fill in the survey — the last one for my book, I promise!


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6 Responses to -lily adverbs: one last attitudes survey

  1. I know that grammatically speaking, these ‘-lily’ adverbs should be able to exist and hence be acceptable, but they just don’t sound right to my ears. Also, we know that adverbs do not necessarily have to end in ‘-ly’, and that it is not absolutely necessary that the adjective and adverb have different forms.

  2. Sounds to me like those who insist on applying -lily to every adjective to form adverbs never quite grew out of the phase of “over-regularization” of grammatical rules that children ages 2-6 go through. After a period of correct imitation, they begin to grasp the rules of word formation but overapply them (“I goed,” “friendlily,” etc.). They gradually learn that such rules are not rigid and that language has exceptions, sometimes patterned, sometimes not. This development is often described as a U-shaped curve. Children who never quite outgrow this phase of over-regularization suffer from a genetic deficiency leading to Williams’ Syndrome. Languages and language acquisition are far, far more creative and complicated than computers and their rules (which, by the way, is why human translators will never be replaced by so-called machine translation).

  3. Paul Brians says:

    This is gilding the “-ily,” silly.

  4. adrianstenton says:


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