early 15c., "in fact, in reality" (as opposed to "in possibility"), from actual + -ly (2). The meaning "actively, vigorously" is from mid-15c.; that of "at this time, at present" is from 1660s. As an intensive added to a statement and suggesting "as a matter of fact, really, in truth" it is attested from 1762, often used as an expression of mild wonder or surprise.
updated on September 14, 2022
Dictionary entries near actually