About a year ago, for reasons I won't bore readers with, we came into possession of about 40 books by Agatha Christie. I've since read all of them several of them twice and I've noted on various end pages striking English usage issues I've come across in them.
One of these was brought into sharper focus just this evening, when I finished reading Murder on the Orient Express :
I had seemed to notice that in some of the books the spelling "D-R-I-L-Y" was consistently used, while in others the spelling "D-R-Y-L-Y" was used just as consistently. I didn't want to assume that Dame Agatha herself had vacillated between the two spellings, and it seemed likely that even if she did so, a copy editor would have enforced consistent spelling. I therefore tentatively decided that she had probably had different copy editors from one book to another, and the spelling in a particular book reflected the preference of a given copy editor.
However, in reading Murder on the Orient Express , I found "drily" in a number of places and had assumed that that would turn out to be the consistent spelling in that book. But to my great surprise, near the end of the book page
212 I found "dryly".

I still don't know, though, whether it was Agatha Christie or her copy editors who were inconsistent.
As for the "correct" spelling, both "drily" and "dryly" are shown in both American and British dictionaries. Curious to see, though, while The New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary has "dryly" as a variant of "drily",
Merriam-Webster's Unabridged Dictionary has "drily" as a variant of "dryly".
"Dryly" seems to be the oddity, since it's common practice to use the "-ily" spelling to form adverbs from adjectives ending in "-y". In MWUD I find "angrily", "hungrily", about 46 words ending in "-kily", 19 ending in "-nily", about 19 ending in "-pily", about 30 ending in "-sily", "paltrily", "sultrily", and "wintrily" with no corresponding "-yly" spellings.
I find about 140 ending in "-rily", and only "spryly" and "wryly" with no "sprily" or "wrily".
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About a year ago, for reasons I won't bore readers with, we came into possession of about 40 books by ... corresponding "-yly" spellings. I find about 140 ending in "-rily", and only "spryly" and "wryly" with no "sprily" or "wrily".

My suspicion is that "dryly" would actually conform more to common practise, because in this - as in spryly and wryly - you have a long and emphasised vowel, with the others you are approaching schwa.

Redwine
Hamburg
(previously: Berlin, Northants, Derbs, Staffs, NSW, Tasmania, Melbourne, rural Victoria, in that and many other orders)
I find about 140 ending in "-rily", and only "spryly" and "wryly" with no "sprily" or "wrily".

And shyly and slyly. Some dictionaries allow shily and slily. And now the obligatory Google results...
drily 23700
dryly 158000
wrily 640
wryly 125000
sprily 28
spryly 8320
shily 1760
shyly 1700
slily 5390
slyly 162000
Looks pretty consistent to me. Wrily & sprily are the only two forms not recognised in dictionaries (well, the ones I checked), and are the least common.
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I find about 140 ending in "-rily", and only "spryly" and "wryly" with no "sprily" or "wrily".

And shyly and slyly. Some dictionaries allow shily and slily. And now the obligatory Google results... drily 23700 dryly 158000 ... sprily are the only two forms not recognised in dictionaries (well, the ones I checked), and are the least common.

OED1 has 'wrily', calling it only a variant of 'wryly'; but not '*sprily'. Under 'dryly' it says it's more analogical than 'drily', and that seems sensible. So we have another case where there's a good reason for using 'y' in the middle of a word.
Mike.
I had seemed to notice that in some of the books the spelling "D-R-I-L-Y" was consistently used, while in others the spelling "D-R-Y-L-Y" was used just as consistently.

Thor Heyerdahl's "Kon Tiki" (translated into English from the original Norwegian in the early 1950s) uses "drily":
"I'd swear this correspondence weighs twenty pounds." "Twenty-six," said Torstein drily. "I've weighed it."

My Linux spell checker flags drily as a no-no.

Gary G. Taylor * Rialto, CA
gary at donavan dot org / http:// geetee dot donavan dot org "The two most abundant things in the universe
are hydrogen and stupidity." Harlan Ellison
I find about 140 ending in "-rily", and only "spryly" and "wryly" with no "sprily" or "wrily".

My suspicion is that "dryly" would actually conform more to common practise, because in this - as in spryly and wryly - you have a long and emphasised vowel, with the others you are approaching schwa.

I think that's an excellent point. Thank you.
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Mike Lyle filted:
OED1 has 'wrily', calling it only a variant of 'wryly'; but not '*sprily'. Under 'dryly' it says it's more analogical than 'drily', and that seems sensible. So we have another case where there's a good reason for using 'y' in the middle of a word.

Fellow I used to work with once suggested "thymy" to describe a dish heavy with that particular herb..
Puns referring to Rolf Harris followed..r
Mike Lyle filted:

OED1 has 'wrily', calling it only a variant of 'wryly'; ... reason for using 'y' in the middle of a word.

Fellow I used to work with once suggested "thymy" to describe a dish heavy with that particular herb.. Puns referring to Rolf Harris followed..r

Are you suggesting that kangaroos taste good with thyme?
Gary G. Taylor * Rialto, CA
gary at donavan dot org / http:// geetee dot donavan dot org "The two most abundant things in the universe
are hydrogen and stupidity." Harlan Ellison
Mike Lyle filted: Fellow I used to work with once ... with that particular herb.. Puns referring to Rolf Harris followed..r

Are you suggesting that kangaroos taste good with thyme?

It is a taste acquired with time.

Skitt (in Hayward, California)
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