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Thusly

Thusly is a superfluous word. Because thus is an adverb in its own right, the adverbial -ly adds nothing. This doesn’t mean that thusly is wrong, however, and there are contexts in which many English-speakers find it simply sounds better than thus, especially where it introduces quotes or lists.

Examples

Thus could replace thusly in each of these sentences:

Cliff thusly became the first pitcher since Deacon Phillippe to walk no one and strike out ten men in a complete game World Series victory. [Patch]

Being thusly aware, I am also aware of the various levels of irony attendant in what I am about to say. [ABC Online]

Thusly, the beautiful boho bags from East Village label, Elliot Mann, have the luck of feeling utterly of-the-moment. [NBC New York]

And just to prove that thus works as an adverb, here are a few examples:


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The newspaper is thus compromising its own integrity. [The Nation]

Mr Cameron was thus obliged to spend several unscheduled hours in the company of the senior British officers.  [Telegraph]

They also invite pictures, video and other contributions, …  thus incorporating non-journalists into the news system. [Economist]

Thusly is most often used to introduce quotes or lists—for example:

Instead, Orlando Winters of the Miami New Times defines it thusly.  [Jezebel]

Hence, the question might be posed thusly: “Shall the law take effect?” [Columbus Dispatch]

While thus technically could replace thusly in these instances (and we could present many examples of thus used this way), this use of thusly is common and probably doesn’t bother many people.

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Comments

  1. Shouldn’t this be an archaism rather than a nonword? Shakespeare used it, not only in the plays, but in the Sonnets too.

    • Grammarist says:

      Yes, you are probably right. We’re actually thinking of changing the “Nonword” designation to something else, as any meaningful group of letters is obviously a word, whether dictionaries list it or not. “Superfluous words” would be closer, but not it’s not quite right.

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  2. I tend to use ‘thusly’ as a more ‘forceful’ variant of thus. I am aware it is superfluous, but my usage seems to make sense.

    • Grammarist says:

      Since posting this (3 years ago now) we’ve noticed some patterns with the use of “thusly,” and we no longer think it’s simply superfluous. We’re going update to flesh out this post in the near future.

  3. Jcali29 says:

    I know it doesn’t bother many people but it does still bother me. It seems that when people think ‘thusly’ sounds better, it’s just because they are unaccustomed to hearing it used that way. I’ll hear people say “She was thus entranced,” but “She was entranced thusly…” To me, the only difference is the sound: the fact that people expect to hear an -ly at that point.

    • That is not an invalid reason, though. Linguistics demonstrates that many grammar rules originated because of the way words sounds when spoken. It makes reasonable sense to me to add the “ly” when the word is used thusly.

  4. Neefer Duir says:

    Thanks. This was very helpful.

  5. Tiberian_Fiend says:

    Seems to me thusly is used more after the verb, while thus is used more before the verb.

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