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Meaning of 'as it were' Options
Koh Elaine
Posted: Wednesday, November 14, 2012 8:36:01 AM
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You say as it were in order to make what you are saying sound less definite.
I'd understood the words, but I didn't, as it were, understand the question.

The above is extracted from the Collins Cobuild Dictionary. I would like someone to elaborate what 'as it were' mean. It seems to me that even if the phrase were removed, the meaning is the same.

Thanks.
thar
Posted: Wednesday, November 14, 2012 9:17:10 AM

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it distances something from being a bold fact. You are saying it 'can be described as' , 'in that sort of way'.

It does not change the meaning but it can soften the absolute fact to a description, an opinion.

eg, doing a google search of "as it were" times newspaper
gives

The New York Times, since 1851 a chronicler of world history spanning three centuries has turned its final page.
The global definer of news, the cultural arbiter of the civilized world, the defender of free speech, has as it were, kicked the bucket. It has croaked, snuffed it and flat-lined.
This paper is, as it were, dead.


so here it means, not literally, but figuratively (metaphorically). Ie it can be described as dead (or having kicked the bucket, a phrase meaning to die). But a newspaper cannot really be 'dead' in the strict sense, since it was never alive.

''''''''''''
This raises very interesting questions of property rights. Who owns a link? And of course the value of a link is an interdependent product of the link’s creator (here, the newspaper publishers) but those that provide a pathway to the link and broadcast it, as it were, to the wider world (here, Google). A change in the current default rules has major implications for Google’s business model.

here they are talking about putting a link to a website on the internet. You are not actually 'broadcasting' it, sending it out. But the act of putting up the link is broadcasting, as it were. Ie it can be described as broadcasting it, it has the same effect.
Koh Elaine
Posted: Wednesday, November 14, 2012 12:19:09 PM
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Thanks,Thar.
leonAzul
Posted: Wednesday, November 14, 2012 3:31:18 PM

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Grammatically the word "were" expresses the past subjunctive form of the verb "to be". The phrase "as it might be" comes very close in literal meaning.

Conversationally there are quite a few expressions for the idea that what follows is intended as a metaphor (or sarcasm) and not to be understood literally.

As it were, so to speak, in a sense, of a sort, after a fashion, on the whole…

Koh Elaine
Posted: Wednesday, November 14, 2012 7:37:44 PM
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Joined: 7/4/2012
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Thanks, Leon.
mister_moon
Posted: Thursday, November 15, 2012 10:19:16 AM
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Location: United Kingdom
A good answer, leon. Succinct and meaningful.
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