English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Why are the words "obviously" and "apparently" often used in repartee? What are some other words that are often used, and for what reasons?

share|improve this question
Related: What's a good comeback to "obviously"? – Callithumpian May 7 '11 at 22:57
Please define "overused", lest we invite subjective and argumentative answers. – RegDwigнt May 7 '11 at 23:33
I would argue they're just as often not used in repartee. – Sam May 8 '11 at 5:36
up vote 3 down vote accepted

When "obviously" and "apparently" are used to answer a question, the person answering is chiding the person who posed the question. The answerer is saying, as far they are concerned, the answer is obvious and requires little or no explanation or that the answer appears right on the surface and is visible to anyone who views a situation. They are asserting the excellence of their own knowledge and judgment concerning the topic of conversation.

These terms will frequently appear in repartee as the parties to a conversation jockey for rank.

share|improve this answer

To answer the request for other conversation characterizing words:

"Certainly", "patently" "doubtless" and "without a doubt" are words that a speaker uses to confirm the veracity of their own words. Their use may indicate a desire to assert rank to the other parties of an exchange, but not as strongly as "obviously" or "apparently".

When "seriously" is used, either the speaker is retracting a jocular response that they had made or else they desire to prod the other party to hold up their side better and keep their own jokes in check.

When "truthfully", "honestly", to "tell the truth" are used, you may be a witness to a lie in progress since the default belief in conversation is that all of the parties are speaking truthfully. Those phrases may indicate a party for whom truth-telling is optional, or who wants to convince you of something, the truth be damned. Even when used honestly, there is intention to sell.

When a party says "with all due respect", they are likely on the teetering edge of showing disrespect to the other side of the conversation. If you are only giving what's due, you're not offering your respect without reservation.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.