as it were

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From Middle English as it were, as hyt were, als it were, als hit were, from Old English *ealswā hit wǣre, attested only as swā hit wǣre and swylċe hit wǣre (as it were, literally as it would be).


as it were (not comparable)

  1. Used other than with a figurative or idiomatic meaning: see as,‎ it,‎ were.
  2. Used to indicate that a word or statement is perhaps not exact though practically right; as if it were so.
    • 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.
    Synonyms: so to speak, in a manner of speaking, in a way
  3. Used to draw attention to the use of a metaphor, sometimes to prevent confusion or to highlight wordplay.
    She gave all of the women seated at the restaurant food for thought, as it were.
    Concerns that cloud seeding might “steal” water from an area a cloud is traveling toward—robbing Peter to water Paul, as it were—have been dispelled.
    • 2014 March 3, “A Powerful New Way to Edit DNA”, in New York Times:
      Scientists hope Crispr might also be used for genomic surgery, as it were, to correct errant genes that cause disease.
    • 2015 November 5, “Stop Calling Yourselves Engineers”, in The Atlantic:
      The Volkswagen diesel-emissions exploit was caused by a software failing, even if it seems to have been engineered, as it were, deliberately-
    • 2017 March 31, “Hail Cesar!”, in National Review:
      Congress ended the bracero program in 1964, and the next 15 years were the salad days, as it were, for farmworkers


See also[edit]