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What is the difference between supposedly and supposably? Both are real words but seem to have confusingly similar definitions.

Supposably: Capable of being supposed : conceivable

Supposedly: According to what is generally assumed or believed

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Supposedly is a real word, in that it is used often by many people. If someone were to tell me that supposably was a word found in a dictionary, I wouldn't be surprised. But it's not a word I've ever heard or read in use. So never mind the definitions; nobody will understand supposably if you use it, no matter what you mean by it. –  John Lawler Mar 26 '12 at 15:01
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Added definitions to the words. I would just like a few examples of when to use each. –  Lumpy Mar 26 '12 at 15:05
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So many people say "supposably" now when they actually mean "supposedly". I love when Judge Judy corrects people on her show who use wrong words, pronunciation, or non-words. She has corrected many people who say supposably. She also corrected people who use the word "conversate" by telling them it was not a word in the English language. During a later show someone used the word and she stopped the arbitration and said she had recently discovered the word had been added to the dictionary because of so many people using it. I guess we have become a land of ignorance. –  user32804 Dec 27 '12 at 15:32
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@LindaAllison: Any and all words in the dictionary have been added to it because of so many people using them. Not so long ago not a single one of the words in your post was a word in the English language. Don't let Judge Judy get wind of it, she will lock you up for life. –  RegDwigнt Dec 27 '12 at 16:01
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5 Answers

Supposably does mean "it is possible to suppose", as opposed to the very different meaning of "supposedly"!

Supposably is quite rare in actual use; I believe it's more an inkhorn term than one actually found in the wild, so to speak. Thus, I fear that when you encounter it you are probably really encountering somebody who meant to say "supposedly".

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I haven't learned a new word in a while, but "inkhorn" is certainly one I've not seen before - and with a good answer thrown in to boot. Thanks. –  Marcus_33 Dec 27 '12 at 18:27
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Must be a Southern thing. Almost all the natives here use supposably when they mean supposedly. Drives me crazy. I never heard it before I moved to NC.

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I have never heard of the word "supposably" before. Sure enough it's in the dictionary; maybe it's an obsolete word. I suppose (!) it is very rare.

"Supposedly" is usually used to mean, "most people think this is true but I think it is questionable or clearly false". Like, "Today I read an article in a supposedly unbiased newspaper." The sentence implies that the article was in fact biased. Or: "Supposedly, at 8:00 am the employees are all at their desks working." Maybe they should be or they're expected to be, but they really aren't.

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Quite frankly, I would never use "supposably." It is, however, certainly present in the American vernacular. As I am a lawyer "supposedly" is most synonymous to "based upon an allegation" and I have used it in that context. "Supposably," were I perchance to ever use it (doubtful/in a creative writing context maybe) would be used in the context more akin to "supposably winters in San Francisco feel warmer than summers." Personally, I shouldn't use either word. Neither is (is there a thread on "both are not," and "Neither is?") as descriptive as another word would be. For example: alleged or assumed. Just sayin....

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Okay, please take note and remember this. Supposably has no meaning, because supposably is NOT a word. Anyone that tries to give definition to the letters that make up supposably you should not be listened to and should be considered illiterate.

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Are you sure about that? Have you seen this supposably Please justify this claim. –  Alex Jul 20 '13 at 20:43
    
-1. This answer is quite simply wrong. ‘Supposably’ is a perfectly fine, though rare, word. It just doesn’t mean ‘supposedly’. –  Janus Bahs Jacquet Jul 21 '13 at 9:31
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