Showing 1 - 1 of 1 post found matching keyword: supposably

Dictionary.com made news this week by defining "supposably" to mean "as may be assumed, imagined, or supposed." That's the same definition typically ascribed to "supposedly" ("according to what is accepted or believed"). There was a time in my life I would have been bent out of shape about this.

Where I come from, "supposably" is not a word. At least, it's not that word. According to my trusty Websters New Twentieth Century Dictionary of the English Language Unabridged (2nd Edition), "supposably" should mean "in a supposable manner." However, it has been used as a mispronunciation of "supposedly" for so long that some 21st-century lexicographers have finally thrown up their hands in defeat.

I have a personal connection to this word because my father has always uses supposably when he means supposedly. In his case, I think he does it because it bothers me. Dad's a real tease that way. (See? It's not my fault. I have been trained to be argumentative by a parent who thinks its fun to fly red flags in front of bulls!)

The reason I'm not a raving basket case over this new definition is because A) I've been reading a lot lately about the bizarre and often counter-intuitive developmental history of the English language, and B) the world is in such a state that if I let myself get worked up over words these days then I'm really going to need to start drinking. The meanings of English words have been meandering for centuries and will continue to do so for so long as someone is still speaking the language. I need to remember that the important part of language is understanding one another, not clinging to arbitrary rules of pronunciation.

That said, I will continue not using "supposably" in my own writing. Even in the 21st-century, a man's got to stand for something.

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To be continued...

 

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