Home Grammar Good, finest, or properly needs?

Good, finest, or properly needs?

Good, finest, or properly needs?


Q: I’m mystified by what appears to be the latest use of “properly needs” fairly than “good needs” or “finest needs.” Is “properly needs” actually appropriate? Shouldn’t the modifier be an adjective, not an adverb?

A: The same old expression is “good needs” or “finest needs,” however “properly needs” has been used for lots of of years in the identical sense.

All three have been first recorded within the late Sixteenth century. A search with Google’s Ngram viewer of digitized books signifies that “good needs” and “finest needs” have alternated in reputation over time, whereas “properly needs” has been a distant third.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines “properly needs” as “an occasion of wishing properly to somebody or one thing.” The dictionary says the expression was fashioned by combining the adverb “properly” and the noun “want.”

Curiously, “properly” has been used adjectivally since Anglo-Saxon instances in varied constructions indicating luck.

On this expanded OED instance from the epic poem Beowulf, relationship again to as early as 725, the Previous English wel is used within the sense of lucky:

“Wel bið þæm þe mot æfter deaðdæge drihten secean / ond to fæder fæþmum freoðo wilnian” (“Effectively be he who in demise can face the Lord and discover friendship within the Father’s embrace”).

The earliest OED quotation for “properly needs,” which we’ve additionally expanded, is from an English translation of a Fifteenth-century Spanish poem about an previous man’s reflections on love:

“Thou artwork that spirit that S. Powle, / Did feele to wrestle along with his soule, / And pray’d our Lord to set him free / From such a peeuish enemie of his wel-wishes.” (From Loues Owle, an Idle Immodest Dialogue Betwene Loue, and an Olde Man, 1595, Anthony Copley’s translation of Rodrigo de Cota’s Dialogo Entre el Amor y un Caballero Viejo.)

Oxford provides that the expression is normally plural and “now much less frequent than finest or good needs.” The dictionary additionally notes the sooner verb “well-wish” (1570), noun “well-wishing” (1562), and adjective “well-wishing” (1548).

As for the extra frequent “finest needs,” the OED defines it as “an expression of hope for an individual’s future happiness or welfare, typically used formulaically on the finish of a letter, card, and so forth.”

The primary quotation is from a letter written by the Earl of Essex on Oct. 16, 1595: “This … is … accompanyed with my finest needs, out of your lordship’s most affectionate cosin and pal, Essex.”

The OED, an etymological dictionary, doesn’t have an entry for  “good needs,” and neither do the ten commonplace dictionaries we repeatedly seek the advice of.

The earliest instance we’ve discovered is from an evaluation of Psalm 129 in a Sixteenth-century treatise on the Guide of Psalms:

“Vers. 8. Teacheth vs, that it’s a testamonie of Gods nice curse vppon vs to need both the prayers or good needs of the godly, howsoeuer the world make no account of the one or the opposite” (A Very Godly and Realized Exposition, Upon the Entire Booke of Psalmes, 1591, by Thomas Wilcox).

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