Grammar

You Can Even Find ‘Supposably’ In the Dictionary These Days!

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Those who examine the list of new entries added to Dictionary.com may find some questionable choices. One of them, surely, would have to be ‘supposably.’

Yes, you can now find “supposably” in the dictionary. The website dictionary.com decided to add the mispronunciation to its site for 2021.

I explained this a few times in the past, but I believe it’s important I repeat myself. We must always remember the purpose of a dictionary. A dictionary defines words so people who don’t understand can learn the speaker’s meaning. It really is as simple as that.

Some people, however, seem to feel a dictionary is a style manual. If you can find it in the dictionary, they insist, it must be a valid word.

I recently wrote about the word “finna,” which was also added in the same batch of words with “suppposably.”

Both words are words in the most basic definition. But both “finna” and “supposably” are classified as nonstandard words. That means you shouldn’t use them in a formal setting. Right or wrong, fair or unfair, you will be judged harshly for using such selections in resumés, cover letters or term papers.

One of the most famous nonstandard words I’ve mentioned over the years is “irregardless.” Anyone using that particular word means to say regardless. People mistakenly formed “irregardless” by unintentionally confusing regardless and irrespective.

“Finna” is a regionalized, largely African American variant of the phrase “fixing to,” which is a largely southern regionalization that means “about to.”

Supposably is simply a mispronunciation.

People who say “supposably” are actually trying to say supposedly. But they fail to nail the pronunciation. The mispronunciation, however, has been around for so long that it wound up listed in the dictionary.

I imagine there are plenty of people who won’t bother looking it up. It sounds close enough to supposedly that I’m sure most people know right off the bat what the speaker meant to say. I also imagine they know right away that their speaker committed a faux pas when they speak the nonstandard word.

But remember this: a dictionary is not a style manual. Their adding the word doesn’t mean it’s any more acceptable to use it.

If you want to be taken seriously, you’re better off properly pronouncing supposedly. And with it, other often mispronounced words like library, which far too many call a “libary.”

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 30 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.