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'Supposably' Is In the Dictionary


Merriam-Webster says that the adverb form of "supposed" is indeed "supposedly," but the adverb form of "supposable" is "supposably."

Webster's New World is a little vaguer, noting "supposably" only as a "related form" of "supposed." However, because WNW has a separate listing for "supposedly" and none for "supposably," there's no doubt which form they prefer.

So, what, exactly is the difference between the adverb form of "supposable" and the adverb form of "supposed"? In their adjective forms, they're clearly different. But as sentence adverbs, the distinction blurs.

I'm going to have to think on this one for a long, long time (after I stop retching, of course). Until then, I'll file this under "things I should have looked up a long time ago."

(Some find this distasteful, and I'm with them. But those who refuse to accept it need understand how words are formed and how dictionaries work. Dictionaries' job is not to tell us how we should use words. It's merely to document how we do use words. Then, once they do, we acquiesce to their wisdom and begin to accept these words as right. This is how baby words are born. The words we use and love today were once abominations. The word "ability" was once every bit as reviled as "supposably." Word creation is always an icky transition. But to resist it is to deny history. Anyone who uses "you" instead of "thee" and "thou" has already embraced the process. )

That said, allow me to add: "Supposably"? Yuck!

6 Comment count
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Well, it's about time you

Well, it's about time you showed up here again! Supposably you've been on vacation. :)


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I'm with you

even though it isn't in my '75 Websters -- Yuck.

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Thanks for noticing, Eric!

Sometimes you just get to feeling disconnected, you know?

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Re that '75 dictionary

That reminds me how interesting it can be to have old ones handy to compare to new ones. I bet there's quite a bit of language history in that book of yours.

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Yeah, it has "yuk" but no "yuck." I had one even older than '75 that, at the end, listed words added to that edition to show how modern it was. Words like "far out." Ha. Outdated almost before it came out. It was paperback and fell apart somewhere along the way. As it would have said, proudly boasting its modern vernacular, "bummer."

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Oh no! I've heard

Oh no! I've heard "Supposably" used by just one person. It's like the fingernail on the chalkboard. I can't believe it's in the dictionary.