for what it's worth
The phrase may have originally been used to qualify a statement of advice, opinion, or suggestion by referring to such a statement and describing it separately from making it.
- Considering what limited worth this advice, opinion, or suggestion might have for you; used to soften the presentation of unsolicited advice or information that may not be relevant.
1877, Julian Hawthorne, Garth, page 343:
- Take my advice for what it’s worth—don’t marry Garth: marry some old fool.
- 1908, Armand Both, The Half-smart Set, Frederick A. Stokes Company, page 276:
- “Well,” said he, “I have a suggestion to make, for what it’s worth.”
- 1999, Bruce Northam, Brad Olsen, In Search of Adventure: A Wild Travel Anthology, →ISBN, page 21:
- There were seven of us from America, and, for what it’s worth, I thought it was a fairly impressive group.
2005, Jennifer Rosen, Waiter, There’s A Horse In My Wine, →ISBN, page 253:
- For what it’s worth, the same holds true for fish bowls: overfill and you’ll suffocate the guppies.
"For what it's worth" is useful to emphasize humility by prompting the reader to provide their judgment of worth against the statement being made; i.e., it may be useful information, it may not be, or perhaps differs in opinion from that of the recipients.