In so many words

Posted by Steve E on March 18, 2005

In Reply to: In so many words posted by Fred on March 18, 2005

: : : : : What does the phrase "in so many words" mean

: : : : by innuendo

: : : I have always heard "in so many words" as having the sense of "exactly, explicity, without the least vagueness." Evidently this is what the editors of the OED think, as well: "b. in so many words (tr. L. totidem verbis, cf. So 37d): lit. in precisely that number of words; in those very words; also, {dagger}word for word." SS
: : :

: : So let's have an example, made up, of course. Helen: So Roger proposed last night? Joan: Well, not in so many words. More by implication. H: He proposed by innuendo? And you accepted by hint? SS

: Smokey: Thanks for setting me straight.

I have always known of SS's explanation of this phrase--explicit and using the exact words. Ex: "The boss told me, in so many words, to get lost"