How to analyze “dearly beloved”?

I’m curious about the phrase “dearly beloved”. – It looks to me to be a phrase consisting of an adverb (dearly) modifying a noun (beloved). But I thought adverbs could only modify verbs or adjectives?

So what am I missing here? What are the parts of speech of this phrase, and how do they go together?

Edit: I’m thinking of the noun phrase (as used, e.g. in addressing someone). Originally I encountered this in the phrase in a Bad Religion song by the same name. In which the chrorus is:

Dearly beloved, dearly beloved, dearly beloved
Make no mistake, despite our traits, I've seldom seen
I can't relate to you
I can't relate to you

But wikipedia has a whole long list of novels, songs etc. with “Dearly Beloved” as a title.

I realise (as pointed out in the comments below) that dearly beloved might also be interpreted as a verb phrase, but my question is not intended to be about that.


Beloved seems to be either an adjective or a past participle acting as a noun.

This use is similar to “the fallen” to mean the people who have died. To modify this phrase, we have two options: (1) modify the noun derived from the participle by adding an adjective, or (2) modify the participle by adding an adverb and then make the whole phrase into a noun.

1) Recent fallen – “fallen” is essentially a noun phrase, but a one-word phrase because we’ve elided a word. “Fallen” is essentially fallen people. We can modify the whole noun phrase (fallen people) by adding an adjective. Thus, recent fallen -> recent (fallen people) -> fallen people who are recent.

2) Recently fallen – if we use an adverb instead of an adjective, we must be modifying the participle, rather than the noun phrase. Recently modifies fallen, not fallen people. Thus, recently fallen -> recently fallen (people) -> people who have fallen recently.

Likewise with beloved. We can modify the noun: dear beloved. This would describe beloved people who are dear.

We can modify the adjective/participle: dearly beloved. This would describe people who are beloved dearly.

Source : Link , Question Author : zrajm , Answer Author : Juhasz

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