When I wrote a post just now I came across a interesting problem. I tried to use "widespreadly" as the adverbial form of "widespread", but it was suggested a wrong word on my computer. I consulted a dictionary and couldn't find the word "widespreadly".

It seems quite normal to me to add -ly at the end of the adjective word "widespread" to make an adverbial word. Why is "widespeadly" not an established English word?

  • As a native English speaker I've never seen it/ it looks wrong to me. Could you give the context you tried to use it in? – Luke Briggs Nov 28 '16 at 5:43
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    The correct adverbial phrase is widely spread. – Mick Nov 28 '16 at 5:44
  • @ Luke Briggs, I intended to write, "The word is widespreadly used nowadays". – dennylv Nov 28 '16 at 5:47
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    @dennylv I would phrase that as "The word is in widespread use nowadays" - I believe this would be the most common approach. Widely spread is for e.g. the gap between multiple things (usually data points). – Luke Briggs Nov 28 '16 at 5:50
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    @Mick: That isn't even a "correct" adverbial phrase. It contains an adverb, sure, but widely spread is an adjectival phrase. The only thing it can modify is a noun. – Robusto Nov 28 '16 at 5:52

We would say

The use of the word is widespread nowadays.

and there widespread would be an adjectival modifier of the subject use attached to it by the predicate is.

Widespread is an interesting adjective. It's really a past-participle form, spread, with a sort of locative modifier wide, rolled up into a ball, as it were. If we untangle the ball we could say:

The use of the word is spread wide nowadays.

P.S. Compare parboiled, overdone.

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