I do not know whether the usage of outright is correct. Not having found this structure on Google search engine, I'm curious about it.

  • Hi siamak - have you looked up outright in the dictionary? It helps us to understand what you understand the meaning of the phrase to be. I think that there is a difference between outright when used as an adjective (That's an outright lie!) and when it is used as an adverb (She didn't reject the proposal outright). Usually I see this idea phrased as: "The author isn't (completely/entirely) wrong."
    – ColleenV
    Apr 7, 2015 at 17:47

1 Answer 1


The author is outright wrong.

The sentence seems to be grammatically correct. The word "outright" is an adverb in the sentence that modifies the adjective "wrong"; it means "completely". However, the use of the word in this sense isn't common. Instead, we can say "The author is absolutely/altogether/completely wrong.

The word "outright" as an adverb is usually used in the sense of "at once or immediate or directly".

  • I think that as an adverb, the "at once" meaning of outright is more common than the "completely" meaning, so while it is correct to say "outright wrong" I think the preference is to use a different word to avoid the ambiguity.
    – ColleenV
    Apr 7, 2015 at 18:59
  • @ColleenV, I agree with you.
    – Khan
    Apr 7, 2015 at 19:26
  • Colleen V, I disagree with you. If "outright" is modifying "wrong", there is no way I could construe it as meaning "at once"! Apr 8, 2015 at 6:24
  • @BrianHitchcock Ambiguity isn't quite the right word. I think just in terms of typical usage, that completely would be preferred over outright when you need that meaning, reserving outright for the other meanings. It's not incorrect write "outright wrong", it's just less expected so it seems a little off when you read it and it takes a tiny bit more effort to understand the meaning. There are certain patterns like "outright lie" or "reject outright" that my brain tries to fill in first. I'm not sure I'm explaining it well. Maybe someone else can do better.
    – ColleenV
    Apr 8, 2015 at 15:47
  • If I read "not completely wrong", I think, well, he must be mostly wrong. If I read "not outright wrong", I think, well he's not exactly wrong, but he's {mistaken/uninformed/on the wrong track/missing the point/etc). That is, he's not wrong per se, but something akin to wrong. So I think there is a distinction in connotation between "outright" and "completely". But I agree it's a bit unusual to see "outright" in a negation. Apr 10, 2015 at 8:32

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .