I have heard the term,

Wasn't terribly...

Meaning it wasn't very whatever. But this kind of contradicts terrible meaning something bad. So for example,

The soil wasn't terribly fertile


The soil was terribly fertile

Do these two phrases mean the same?

In my opinion, the second phrase sounds better

Any help is appreciated Thanks

1 Answer 1


"It wasn't terribly fertile" means "it wasn't very fertile".

"It was terribly fertile" means "it was very fertile".

So, the two sentences are opposites.

It's true that "terribly" has two meanings. Oxford Living Dictionaries gives two definitions:

1 Very; extremely.

2 Very badly or unpleasantly.

In the case of the phrase "terribly fertile", the first definition fits more comfortably.

"Very badly fertile" or "unpleasantly fertile" wouldn't really quite make sense. If we wanted to say that the ground wasn't fertile, we'd say "not fertile", "not very fertile" or "infertile".

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