as it were

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Perhaps a truncation of "as it were so"; or, more likely, using an obsolete sense of were meaning "would be" (i.e. as it would be).


as it were

  1. used to indicate that a word or statement is perhaps not exact though practically right.
    • 1611, King James Version of the Bible, Numbers 23:22:
      God brought them out of Egypt; he hath as it were the strength of an unicorn.
    • 1884, Edwin Abbott Abbott, Flatland, A Romance of Many Dimensions:
      Yet so strong is the parental ambition among those Polygons who are, as it were, on the fringe of the Circular class, that it is very rare to find a Nobleman of that position in society, who has neglected to place his first-born in the Circular Neo-Therapeutic Gymnasium before he has attained the age of a month.