Meaning of “ever” in the English Dictionary

"ever" in British English

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everadverb

uk /ˈev.ər/ us /ˈev.ɚ/

ever adverb (AT ANY TIME)

A2 at any time:

Nothing ever happens here in the evening.
Have you ever been to London?
If you're ever/If ever you're in Rio, do give me a call.
He hardly ever (= almost never) washes the dishes and he rarely, if ever, (= probably never) does any cleaning.
When there's a James Bond movie on TV, I never ever miss it.
If ever there was a cause for celebration, this peace treaty was it.
The smell is worse than ever.
I thought she was famous, but none of my friends have ever heard of her.
better, bigger, more, etc. than ever

C1 better, bigger, etc. than at any time before:

We are spending more than ever on education.
as big, fast, good, etc. as ever

as big, fast, etc. as at any time before:

The restaurants are as good as ever and no more expensive.

More examples

  • The relative cheapness of foreign travel means that more people are going abroad than ever before.
  • If you're ever in Perth, come and visit us.
  • Blue whales are the largest creatures ever to have lived.
  • She declared (that) it was the best chocolate cake she had ever tasted.
  • I went to Paris last summer. Have you ever been there?

ever adverb (ALWAYS)

C2 continuously:

United's record in cup competitions grows ever more impressive.
The ever-increasing demand for private cars could be halted by more investment in public transport.
Nuclear devastation was an ever-present threat.
Susan and Guy moved to the country, where they lived happily ever after.
ever since

B1 continuously since that time:

He's been depressed ever since he got divorced.
as ever

in the same way as always:

As ever, I was the last to find out.
yours ever also ever yours UK formal

used at the end of a letter as a way of saying goodbye to someone you know well:

Yours ever, Yvonne.

More examples

  • They have been deadly enemies ever since Mark stole Greg's girlfriend.
  • She's been in and out of hospitals ever since the accident.
  • The outlook for the region's economy is looking every better.
  • There are ever-growing tensions between the two countries.
  • The company's ever-falling profits this year are making its shareholders nervous.

ever adverb (EMPHASIS)

used for emphasizing an adjective:

The orchestra is to perform its last ever concert/last concert ever tomorrow night at the Albert Hall.
Yesterday the company announced its first ever fall in profits.
Was she ever a fast runner! (= She was a very fast runner!)
"Are you looking forward to your vacation?" "Am I ever!" (= Yes, very much!)

in questions, used to emphasize the question word:

How ever did he manage that?
What ever have you done to him?
Why ever would anyone/Why would anyone ever want to hurt her?
ever so/ever such a B2 UK informal

very/a very:

She's ever so pretty.
She's ever such a pretty girl.

More examples

  • That was your best performance ever - congratulations!
  • The company has had one of its best years ever.
  • This is one of the worst natural disasters ever to befall the area.
  • Hurricane Hugo will go down in the record books as the costliest storm ever faced by insurers.
  • Don't you think that was the funniest movie ever?

(Definition of “ever” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"ever" in American English

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everadverb [ not gradable ]

us /ˈev·ər/

ever adverb [ not gradable ] (AT ANY TIME)

at any time:

Nothing ever happens here.
Have you ever been to Europe?
I thought she was famous, but none of my friends have ever heard of her.
We are spending more money than ever.
He hardly ever washes the dishes (= almost never).

ever adverb [ not gradable ] (ALWAYS)

always, or continuously:

Her record grows ever more impressive over the years.
There’s an ever-increasing demand for new styles.
I have taught school ever since my children were little.

ever adverb [ not gradable ] (EMPHASIS)

used to emphasize an adjective:

I saw John Coltrane’s last concert ever.
Was she ever angry (= She was very angry)!

(Definition of “ever” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)