1 THE REAL SITUATION used when you are saying what is actually the truth of a situation, rather than what people might wrongly think: What really happened? | Oliver was not really her cousin. | You are pretending to be annoyed, but you're not really.
2 DEFINITELY especially spoken used to emphasize something you are saying: You ought really to have asked me first. | I really don't mind. | I'm absolutely fine, Dad - really.
3 VERY MUCH very much; extremely: really nice | His letter really irritated her. | It doesn't really matter, does it?
4 really?
a) used to show that you are surprised by what someone has said: “There are something like 87 McDonalds in Hong Kong.” “Really?”
b) used in conversation to show that you are listening to or interested in what the other person is saying: “I think we might go to the Grand Canyon in June.” “Oh, really?”
c) AmE used to express agreement: “It's a pain having to get here so early.” “Yeah, really!”
d) especially BrE used to express disapproval: Really, Larry, you might have told me!
5 not really used to say `no' or `not completely': “Do you want to come along?” “Not really.”
6 I don't really know used to say that you are not certain about something: I don't really know what he's up to. I haven't heard from him for ages.
7 I really don't know used to say that you definitely do not know something, especially when someone has asked you about it: I can't answer that, I really don't know.
8 really and truly used to emphasize a statement or opinion: Really and truly, I think you should tell him.
USAGE NOTE: REALLY UK-US DIFFERENCE Really with an adjective or adverb meaning 'very' is common in British English, and is the usual word in American English: I'm really fed up with this job. In informal spoken American English real is often used: That's a real nice car. GRAMMAR Really meaning `very' must go immediately before the adjective it strengthens: He's a really nice man (=a very nice man).| I think she's really stupid. Really in other positions usually emphasises that what you are saying is true even though it might not seem to fit: He's really a nice man (=he is nice, though you might not think so): She uses lots of long words, but really she's pretty stupid. Really is usually used before a verb but not immediately after it (except after the verb to be): It's really cold in here. | She doesn't really know what to do. SPELLING Remember there are two 'l's in really.

Longman dictionary of contemporary English. 2004.

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