I heard the following dialog in a British English movie:

Words go round quick. All the little tongues go clack, clack, clack.

What does this mean, and why was the word "quick" used instead of "quickly"?

  • Which movie, pray tell? Commented Jun 25, 2016 at 14:33
  • It is 'Wish you were here'.
    – Anubhav
    Commented Jun 25, 2016 at 16:33

3 Answers 3


I see quickly as the correct adverb; I would correct my children if they said:

He's running quick.

However quick is widely used as an adverb, and in some phrases seems to work better:

a get rich quick scheme

Do it, and do it real quick

Some dictionaries do include that quick may be used as an adverb.

President George W Bush

We want to get this bridge rebuilt as quick as possible.

This article has some interesting observations

At to the meaning of the passage. The idea is of information (and suspect in particular malicious gossip) being transmitted very quickly from person to person. The individual tongues working very quickly like components of a machine.

This comes to mind:

A lie can travel halfway around the world before the truth can get its boots on

  • Yep, normal usage in America and, under the influence of Holywood, more and more wide-spread in Britain too.
    – tum_
    Commented Jun 25, 2016 at 12:09
  • Would you correct your children if they said He's doing it quick? In other words, I'm interested in how 'Do it quick' is okay for you, but not 'He's running quick'. Commented Jun 25, 2016 at 13:12
  • As A. Toumanstev said: the "quick as adverb" idiom is largely picked-up from Hollywood movies. If "He's doing it quick" was said in the context of someone having recently said "do it real quick" I'd let it go. In isolation I'd correct it. Similarly I see it as fun to use other slang expressions. "We ain't going nowhere today" but I would pick up the ain't and double negatives in other contexts.
    – djna
    Commented Jun 25, 2016 at 14:09
  • 1
    I think I understand what @A.Toumantsev is saying, but as my answer notes, the flat adverb 'quick' has a long and venerable history. I don't think there's anything "Hollywood" about it, if that is supposed to mean something along the lines of "bad usage corrupting language". Commented Jun 25, 2016 at 14:32
  • 1
    My comment was about "dropping the -ly" in general. Actually, being a non-native speaker I didn't even know of "do it quick", so I've learnt smth new. [Upvoted your answer] What I had in mind was: "The weather is real good today", or (with John Wayne's voice) "Man, you gotta hit the road now and you gotta do it real fast" :)
    – tum_
    Commented Jun 25, 2016 at 14:49

quick can be both adjective and adverb. In spoken language it may be used instead of quickly as an adverb mostly in exclamations or comparatives.

Come quick, Larry's on TV

Quick! there is a mouse


‘Quick’ (without -ly) is an adverb, as well as an adjective. An adverb does not have to end in -ly and often such adverbs that do not are called ‘flat adverbs’ (see Flat adverbs are flat-out useful).

‘Quick’ as an adverb has been used since 1300, per the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), which includes usages of the flat adverb ‘quick’ from Shakespeare, Milton, Locke, Chesterfield, Dickens, Tennyson, and Sandburg.

Do it quick, Come quick, and your Words go round quick are natural uses of quick as an adverb.

However, the OED also says that the use of quick as an adverb is

usually considered less formal than quickly, and found chiefly in informal or colloquial contexts [my emphases].

One might also add dialectal to that sentence, as its acceptance and/or usage in formal contexts may depend on the dialect of the speaker.

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