Interesting and Unusual Words: “Supposedly”

By Matt Vicker


This adverb is one that I seem to be using more and more in my everyday life. I often use it when I’m trying to cast doubt when reporting something someone else has said, for example, ‘supposedly it is going to rain later (*looks outside at the nice sunshine*)’. It also if synonymous with the similar-sounding ‘supposably’ which some of you may prefer to use. I would suggest that I use ‘supposedly’ more frequently because I think it is easier to say – ‘ed’ over ‘ab’. But maybe that is just me…

The OED definition is that ‘supposedly’ is used ‘according to belief, but without conclusive evidence and perhaps mistakenly; as is (or was) supposed; by way of supposition’ – when making a reference to someone else’s opinion or just reporting what they have said, despite it being subjectively bad or inaccurate.

Let me know whether you supposedly use ‘supposedly’, or supposably use ‘supposably’, or even if you use both equally, in the comments below.

The OED entry for ‘supposedly’:

One comment

  1. Some languages, eg Moseten, use evidentials, ie giving the evidence of where a piece of information is from or how sure the speaker is. In English these are optional, but maybe they are becoming more frequent? Who wants to do a corpus-based study on this?

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