Meaning of “really” in the English Dictionary

"really" in British English

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uk /ˈrɪə.li/ us /ˈriː.ə.li/

really adverb (NOT IMAGINARY)

B1 in fact:

He isn't really angry - he's just pretending.
You don't really expect them to refuse, do you?

A2 used to say that something is certain:

Thank you, but I really couldn't eat another thing.
He's really going to do it this time.

More examples

  • The constraints of politeness wouldn't allow her to say what she really thought about his cooking.
  • I don't really know how she got the job, but I suspect her mother's got contacts.
  • He doesn't really mean it - he's just being contrary.
  • A joke can be very revealing about what someone's really thinking.
  • She's not really angry - it's just a put-on.

really adverb (VERY)

A1 very or very much:

She's really nice.
This room is really hot.
That's really interesting.
It's a really difficult decision.
"Did you like it? Not really (= no)."

More examples

  • Security checks have become really strict at the airport.
  • I had to fill in this really complicated form.
  • We had a really rough crossing - I was sick three times.
  • Why do you have a down on him? I think he seems really nice.
  • My dad was always really good at making up stories.


uk /ˈrɪə.li/ us /ˈriː.ə.li/

A2 used to express interest, surprise, or anger:

"I'm getting married to Fred." "Really? When?"
"She's promised to shave her head for charity." "Really? Do you think she'll do it?"
"He hasn't brought the book back." "Oh, really! That's the second time I've asked him!"

More examples

  • "She's leaving." "Really?"
  • "I find him very attractive." "Really?"
  • "I thought it was the best film I'd ever seen." "Really?"
  • "I think they've just sold their house." "Really?"
  • "I saw him in town yesterday." "Really?"

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

"really" in American English

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reallyadverb [ not gradable ]

us /ˈri·ə·li, ˈri·li/

really adverb [ not gradable ] (SINCERELY)

sincerely; truly:

I’m really telling the truth this time.
If she really cared about me, she would have called by now.

really adverb [ not gradable ] (VERY GREAT)


That was a really good movie.
This room is really hot.

really adverb [ not gradable ] (ACTUALLY)


What really happened that day?
I just don’t know if we would really use it that much.


us /ˈri·ə·li, ˈri·li/

really exclamation (EXPRESSING SURPRISE)

used to express interest, surprise, or annoyance:

"Debbie and I are getting married." "Really? When?"
Really, Jen, you should have let me know sooner.

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

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