Is There Ever a Good Time to Use the Word “Arguably”? Probably Not.

Comments

1

Isn't it just short-hand for "I don't specifically agree with what I'm about to say, but I'm going to bring up this point of view for purposes of our discussion"?

What would you replace it with? Just removing it would imply that you believe what you're arguing, which is not always the case.

2

@1: I think it means the opposite. More like, "I believe this to be true, but you may disagree."

3

Also, ban the execrable phrase, "going forward." Gah.

4

yeah thats an arguable premise. I like the term arguable as a preface to a position or premise, allowing for the fact that it could be debatable or there are others with counterfactual views. the word I want done much less with, not "away with", but with arguably less severe levels of weaponization and smug slam dunking is "problematic." sorry if that opinion bums out or chafes anyone...

5

On the internet it means “I have no idea what I’m talking about so here’s a high-school debate team hedge word.”

6

I feel personally attacked.

7

"awhile", "guyses", "irregardless", "lol", "catch feelings", "kitten kaboodle", "4chan", "I love it when...", "I love that...", "It's nice when...", "The moment when..."

If you ever use any of these word structures or phrases you are a poof with nothing to say. Get rid of the platitudes and use correct words and phrases, you dumbos.

8

I actually thought this series was going to be retired. Too bad. Although the editing has gotten a little tighter, there is still some inconsistency in punctuation. It needs some work. But the idea that parsley doesn't contribute to a dinner? That is arguably a pitiful take on the culinary contribution of the herb -- try making Midnight Pasta without parsley.

9

Wrong. There is.

10

@7,
I agree!

Also, "literally" is way overused. And "I feel like..." is ridiculous. Both the word & phrase should be dropped.

11

I love this series.

12

This is inarguably Dave Segal's most trivial post ever.

Having gotten that out of my system, this title of this post speaks to a grammatical hole I sometimes fall into. I see:
Is There Ever a Good Time to Use the Word “Arguably”?
Shouldn't that be?
Is There Ever a Good Time to Use the Word “Arguably?”

I believe it's the latter, but boy, that looks funny.

13

Arguably is used a great deal on the BBC. A guest on the BBC can not say: "Tony Blair is a war criminal." The guest can say: "Tony Blair is arguably a war criminal" which means "Tony Blair is a war criminal" but it gives the BBC plausible deniability that it called Blair a war criminal.

Seriously, I have heard this happen.

14

@12

No, it's correct as it is. The question mark is not part of the usage he's asking about. It's punctuation for the headline itself, so it goes outside the quotation mark.

15

"Arguably" has utility in that it is a concise way to indicate a degree of uncertainty or incredulity in the following argument. This is useful both when stating a potential counterargument to your main point (the use case @1 brings up) and when proposing an argument you may agree with but realize you have not fully thought out. Having such a word is particularly useful in online text discussions, because without the none verbal cues available in spoken discourse it can be difficult to judge how committed one is to the idea they are presenting. This ambiguity contributes to the way many message board discussions devolve into ad hominem shouting matches, and the popularity of "arguably" is partially a result of people striving to keep the discourse civil by clarifying their lack of attachment to a potentially controversial argument.

16

I think @13 demonstrates my point, right?

"I'm not specifically saying I believe Tony Blair is a war criminal, but I'm going to consider this point of view for purposes of our discussion".

This isn't just to avoid lawsuits, but a legitimate caveat used to flag arguments as hypothetical.

17

Arguably, there is never a good time to use the phrase "Get off my lawn!".

18

I use arguably mostly bigly.

19

15, well stated.

20

This is a legit stupid post.

21

uh, "efficacious" tho? like if word pare is your compellent, what about "good" instead! wtef?

22

Yeah, what @15 said. It is basically short for "one could make a reasonable argument for this, but I won't, because we would waste too much time on what is essentially a side issue".

To say that you could argue anything misses the point. Sure, you could argue that the world is flat, or that up is down. But they aren't reasonable arguments.

How about an example: Pretend that LeBron James just got hurt. I would then write that the Cavs chances of winning a championship have been greatly diminished because they just lost arguably the best player in the game.

Is he the best? Yeah, I think so. A lot of people think so. But there are reasonable arguments for several other players. The point is, it is a huge loss.

On the other hand, if Osman goes down with an injury, it would be ridiculous to argue that the Cavs just lost "arguably the best player in the game" or even "arguably the best player on the team". Both arguments are ridiculous, even though one could of course argue them.

23

The Lester Bangs/William Safire hybrid we need if not deserve. But wouldn't it be more efficient and less passive-aggressive just to email Rich Smith privately?