adj., -iÂ·er, -iÂ·est.
- In a high degree; extremely: very happy; very much admired.
- Truly; absolutely: the very best advice; attended the very same schools.
- Very Used in titles: the Very Reverend Jane Smith.
- Complete; absolute: at the very end of his career; the very opposite.
- Being the same one; identical: the very question she asked yesterday.
- Being particularly suitable or appropriate: the very item needed to increase sales.
- Being precisely as stated: the very center of town.
- Mere: The very thought is frightening.
- Actual: caught in the very act of stealing.
- Genuine; true: â€œLike very sanctity, she did approachâ€ (Shakespeare).
[Middle English verrai, from Old French verai, true, from Vulgar Latin *vÄ“rÄcus, from Latin vÄ“rÄx, vÄ“rÄc-, truthful, from vÄ“rus, true.]
USAGE NOTE In general, very is not used alone to modify a past participle. Thus we may say of a book, for example, that it has been very much praised, very much criticized, very much applauded, and so on, but not that it has been very praised, very criticized, or very applauded. However, when past participle forms are used as adjectives, modification by a bare very, or by analogous adverbs such as quite, is acceptable: there can be no objection to phrases such as a very creased handkerchief, a very celebrated singer, or a very polished performance. In some cases there is disagreement as to whether a particular participle can be properly used as an adjective: over the years objections have been raised to very immediately preceding delighted, interested, annoyed, pleased, disappointed, and irritated. All these words are now well established as adjectives, as indicated by the fact that they can be used attributively (a delighted audience, a pleased look, a disappointed young man) as well as by other syntactic criteria. But the status of other participles is still in flux. Some speakers accept phrases such as very appreciated, very astonished, or very heartened, while others prefer alternatives using very much. What is more, some participles allow treatment as adjectives in one sense but not another: one may speak of a very inflated reputation, for example, but not, ordinarily, of a very inflated balloon. As a result, there is no sure way to tell which participles may be modified by a bare veryâ€”syntactic tests such as the use of the participle as an attributive adjective will themselves yield different judgments for different speakersâ€”and writers must trust their ears. When in doubt, the use of very much is generally the safer alternative.