if anything

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if anything (not comparable)

  1. (idiomatic) Used to suggest or state tentatively that something may be the case (often the opposite of something previously implied).
    The situation is, if anything, worsening rather than improving.
    “Do you think she’s tall?” / “Oh, no. If anything, she’s short.”
    “Do you think she’s tall?” / “Oh, yes. If anything, she’s very tall.”
    • 1754 December 18, J. Ready, “Mr Urban, I Send You a Remarkable Case in Surgery, with the Bone Itself that Came Away; [...]”, in Sylvanus Urban [pseudonym; Edward Cave], editor, The Gentleman’s Magazine, and Historical Chronicle, volume XXV, London: Printed by D[avid] Henry and R. Cave, at St John's Gate, published January 1755, OCLC 192374019, page 14, column 2:
      She [a girl who had her left tibia removed] is quite upright, has no defect either of ſtrength or motion in her leg, and ſcarcely any deformity; if any thing, 'tis a ſmall matter bigger than the other juſt above the ankle, occaſioned by the exuberance of the callus, by which the remains of the tibia are conſolidated with the fibula; []
    • 1997 September, Marion Zimmer Bradley, The Shadow Matrix (DAW Book Collectors; no. 1065), New York, N.Y.: DAW Books, →ISBN; republished as The Shadow Matrix: A Novel of Darkover, New York, N.Y.: DAW Books, 1999, →ISBN:
      My sensitivity to the crystals has, if anything, increased. I have to spend a great deal of energy just keeping myself together, because my impulse is to blast the damn things to flinders.
    • 2006 January, John G. Hemry, Against All Enemies: A Paul Sinclair Novel, New York, N.Y.: Ace Books, →ISBN, page 243:
      "Then Lieutenant Pullman didn't express uncertainties about any aspect of his primary responsibility or of his other duties onboard the ship?" / "No. If anything, he acted like he was bored by instruction and training. As if he already knew everything. You know the type."
  2. (idiomatic) Used in questions when the speaker does not know for sure if the listener will have an answer.
    What can you tell me, if anything, about this book?
    • 1865 March 1, “Proceedings of a Military Commission Convened by Special Orders No. 23, Headquarters District of Colorado, Denver, Colorado Territory, Dated February 1, 1865, in the Case of Colonel J[ohn] M[ilton] Chivington, First Colorado Cavalry”, in Report of the Secretary of War, Communicating, in Compliance with a Resolution of the Senate of February 4, 1867, a Copy of the Evidence Taken at Denver and Fort Lyon, Colorado Territory, by a Military Commission, Ordered to Inquire into the Sand Creek massacre, November 1864 (39th Congress, 2nd Session, Senate Executive Document; no. 26), volume 2, Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, published 1867, OCLC 5141810, page 58:
      Question. What, if anything, did the Indians say respecting their ability to procure the white captives then in possession of the Sioux? Answer. That they thought it would be difficult to do so, []
    • 2009, Christopher Robichaud, “Bright Colors, Dark Times”, in Ben Dyer, editor, Supervillans and Philosophy: Sometimes, Evil is Its Own Reward (Popular Culture and Philosophy; 42), Chicago; La Salle, Ill.: Open Court Publishing Company, →ISBN, phase 2 (The Nature of Evil), page 62:
      What are values in the first place? What, if anything, make value judgments correct or incorrect?