Let’s admit it. Sometimes, we use certain words to sound smart. At one point, we’ve used what we think are smart-sounding words in a paper for school or in conversation with, um, other  intellectuals.

The thing is, when we use smart-sounding words without knowing what they really mean or how they came to be, we can end up sounding foolish!

Let’s talk about the roots of the word “thusly.”

In the 1800s, humorists started making fun of people who tried too hard to sound smart. You see, the best way to be understood is to say things as simply as you can. But there were just some people who wanted to sound stylish by imitating how they thought more educated people spoke.

According to Wiktionary, humorists invented the word “thusly” as a joke. It was an unnecessary alternative for “thus” in sentences. “Thus,” which means “in this way,” is an adverb. Adding “-ly” to it makes it a double adverb!

Soon, people trying to sound smart started using “thusly.” Instead of saying “Hold the teacup thus,” people started saying “Hold it thusly.” It quickly became clear who were pretending to be intellectuals!

“Thusly” has gained popular usage, so maybe the joke’s on the humorists now. But many dictionaries still don’t accept it as a standard word, so it’s best not to use it.

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