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I routinely find this expression in newspaper, magazines, blogs... My guess is that it's used to report a widely shared opinion, but I couldn't find any confirmation of this. Or maybe it's just used to emphasize the adjective? I'm afraid I might be missing a subtelty here.

Here are a few examples from the first page of googling "oh so *":

  • Paul Ryan's oh-so-clever jab at Jay Cutler
  • Chivas USA came oh so close to getting the first goal of the match
  • The movie-star-handsome [...] stung with that oh-so-direct comeuppance
  • Robert Pattinson Oh So Lonely: 'No One Ever Calls Or Texts Me!'
  • An Oh-So-British Affair Projects a Fresh, Antique Charm
  • LaPorta made an oh-so-costly error in the game
  • Finally, the long, oh so very long flight back to Vancouver

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1  
Can you give some more context? I'm having trouble thinking of examples of this pattern. –  Mitch May 22 '11 at 3:05
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Well, as I said, I find it routinely; downvoting just because of this seems quite a bit harsh. –  UncleZeiv May 22 '11 at 3:41
    
maybe it's just a kind of slang use of the word to make it easier to reflect a more real just regular and casual way that people talk? –  user57693 Nov 19 '13 at 10:47

2 Answers 2

up vote 4 down vote accepted

"Oh-so" means "very", but with the implication of certain emotion. The "oh" caries similar meaning to a sigh. It can imply sarcasm, relief, frustration, etc.

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So it's context dependent, isn't it? And sarcasm seems to be its most prominent use. –  UncleZeiv May 23 '11 at 22:40

I believe it means "very" or "extremely". It is used to modify an adjective or adverb.

"Paul Ryan's oh-so-clever jab at Jay Cutler"

Becomes

"Paul Ryan's very clever jab."

Another example

"LaPorta made an oh-so-costly error in the game"

"LaPorta made an extremely costly error in the game"

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4  
Possibly because it's a somewhat 'quirky' idiom in the first place, oh-so often gets used in sarcastic / scornful / jocular contexts. –  FumbleFingers May 22 '11 at 4:13
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I'd read the "oh-so-clever" sentence as "Paul Ryan thought his jab was very clever, but it was actually rather lame". –  deceze May 22 '11 at 9:56

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