Also found in: Thesaurus, Idioms.
Related to veriest: surcingle, charnel


1. In a high degree; extremely: very happy; very much admired.
2. Truly; absolutely: the very best advice; attended the very same schools.
3. Very Used in titles: the Very Reverend Jane Smith.
adj. ver·i·er, ver·i·est
1. Complete; absolute: at the very end of his career.
2. Being the same; identical: That is the very question she asked yesterday.
3. Being particularly suitable or appropriate: the very item needed to increase sales.
4. Used to emphasize the importance of what is specified: The very mountains shook.
5. Being nothing more than what is specified; mere: The very act of riding in the car made him dizzy.
6. Archaic Genuine; true: "Like very sanctity, she did approach" (Shakespeare).

[Middle English verrai, from Old French verai, true, from Vulgar Latin *vērācus, from Latin vērāx, vērāc-, truthful, from vērus, true; see wērə-o- in Indo-European roots.]
Usage Note: In general usage very is not used alone to modify a past participle. Thus, we may say of a book that it has been very much praised or very much criticized (where very modifies the adverb much), but not that it has been very praised or very criticized. However, many past participle forms do double duty as adjectives, in which case modification by very or by analogous adverbs such as quite is acceptable, as in a very celebrated singer or a performance that was quite polished. In some cases there is disagreement as to whether a particular participle can be used properly as an adjective. In the past, critics have objected to the use of very by itself with delighted, interested, annoyed, pleased, disappointed, and irritated. All of these words are now well established as adjectives, however, as indicated by the fact that they are used attributively, that is, in juxtaposition to a noun they modify, as in a delighted audience, a pleased look, a disappointed young man. But the situation is not always clear. Some speakers accept phrases such as very appreciated, very astonished, or very heartened, while others prefer alternatives using very much. Some participles can be treated as adjectives in one sense but not another, as in a very inflated reputation but not a very inflated tire. As a result, there is no sure way to tell which participles can be modified by a bare very. When in doubt, using very much is generally correct.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


archaic (intensifier): the veriest coward.
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014
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References in classic literature ?
Possibly the severest struggle was waged on Ophir, the veriest of moose-pastures, whose low-grade dirt was valuable only because of its vastness.
Yet since you are pleased to affect ignorance, I will instruct you as if you were the veriest baby in Lineland.
He had spoken the very truth, and transformed it into the veriest falsehood.
The tamest inhabitant of cities, the veriest spoiled child of civilization, feels his heart dilate and his pulse beat high on finding himself on horseback in the glorious wilderness; what then must be the excitement of one whose imagination had been stimulated by a residence on the frontier, and to whom the wilderness was a region of romance!
The veriest bumpkin, on entering an apartment so bedizzened, would be instantly aware of something wrong, although he might be altogether unable to assign a cause for his dissatisfaction.
At certain periods it becomes the dearest ambition of a man to keep a faithful record of his performances in a book; and he dashes at this work with an enthusiasm that imposes on him the notion that keeping a journal is the veriest pastime in the world, and the pleasantest.
In truth, it was a joke to me, that I, the veriest landsman, should be filling the office of mate; but to be taken as a joke by others was a different matter.
But all this lasted only a few soothing seconds before I jumped up too, making the boat roll like the veriest landlubber.
We are but the veriest, sorriest slaves of our stomach.
George was the veriest of landlubbers, so I was forced to give over bailing and take the tiller.
"The court pronounces the defendant--DEAD!" and the Story Girl was wont to render it with such dramatic intensity and power that the veriest dullard among her listeners could not have missed its force and significance.
- The poor child will be the veriest milksop that ever was sopped!