The meanings of "casual" can be found easily, and it has several meanings. Because of this, it's quite difficult for me to make out the meaning of its adverb. For example:

"Where do you work?" she asked casually.
"What did he say about me?" She asked as casually as she could.
They chatted casually on the phone.

Or the noun:

He was sure that the casualness of the gesture was deliberate.

Can someone please explain the meaning of the words "casually" and "casualness" in these sentences? Thank you.

2 Answers 2


The adverb casually simply means "in a casual manner", so it'll map to one of those definitions that are so easily found in the dictionary.

NOAD lists four main meanings:

1 relaxed and unconcerned : she regarded his affairs with a casual indulgence | he tried to make his voice sound casual.
  • made or done without much thought or premeditation : a casual remark.
  • done or acting in a desultory way : to the casual observer, rugby looks something like soccer.
  • done or acting without sufficient care or thoroughness : the casual way in which victims were treated.
2 not regular or permanent : the tent is ideal for casual outdoor use | casual jobs.
  • (of a worker) employed on a temporary or irregular basis : casual staff.
3 [ attrib. ] happening by chance; accidental : he pretended it was a casual meeting.
4 without formality of style, manner, or procedure, in particular
  • (of a place or environment) relaxed and friendly : the inn's casual atmosphere.

I'm thinking that your question is really getting at: Which of these meanings does casually map to?

Most of time time, it'll be that first meaning: "relaxed and unconcerned," although there might be times when Meaning #4 would be a more precise match. That said, in regards to conversation, the difference between Meanings #1 and #4 would be trivial.


In fact, casual (noun/adjective), casually (adverb) and casualness (noun) mean: "without paying attention to detail" or "happening by chance" or "not permanent" or "without deep affection"

I daresay you should remember the adverbs and noun rules to apply the meaning.
Adverb describes the verb. Adjective describes the noun. Noun is a subject or object.

'What did he say about me?’ she asked as casually as she could. (=she talks while trying not to show being interested. She tries to be Natural.)

They chatted casually on the phone. (=she's enjoying her convertation and acts naturally)

Dressed casually in jeans and T-shirt (=not wearing formal clothes)

He was sure that the casualness of the gesture was deliberate. (=this person pretends to look at him by accident.)

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