What does it mean "as it was" in this context?

She was awakened by a shock, so sudden and severe that if Dorothy had not been lying on the soft bed she might have been hurt. As it was, the jar made her catch her breath and wonder what had happened.

It could be intended literally like: "as it happens" or but idiomatically, like "as it is" (in its current state / as the situation stands) or "as it were" (so to speak)?


Back to this question, which phrase was from The Wizard of Oz too, I would add other two phrases always from the same book were the meaning is of "as it is/was" in not so literal:

  • "they would surely have destroyed me. As it was, I lived in deadly fear of them for many years"

  • "There is only one thing I ask in return for my help—such as it is. You must keep my secret and tell no one I am a humbug"

  • Instead of just voting, if it is a so simple sentence why not propose an alternative able to explain the evidence?
    – Kiron
    Commented May 19, 2013 at 14:32
  • @ Kiron: Because this level of question is just too basic for ELL. It would be more appropriate on English Language Learners Commented May 19, 2013 at 15:11

1 Answer 1


It is the past tense of "as it is", like the present tense version usually used to designate an actual as opposed to a (previously expressed) hypothetical contingency.

  • 1
    There is often a sense that, though some mitigating factor (here, Dorothy's lying on a soft bed) has softened a blow, the result was still pretty (here) to very unpleasant. He would have been killed had he not been wearing a seat belt. As it was, he was hospitalised for six weeks. (example at golfdigest.com/magazine/2013-01/rocco-mediate-at-50 , gratifyingly similar) Commented May 18, 2013 at 20:29
  • 2
    @EdwinAshworth But it can go the other way, too. If Bartlett had not interfered, the Cubs very likely would have won the pennant. As it was, their defense fell apart, eight runs scored, and Northsiders were eventually left saying, for the 95th consecutive season, "Wait til next year." Commented May 18, 2013 at 20:43
  • 1
    As it turned out is probably more common here, but I'd not asterisk that usage. Commented May 18, 2013 at 21:09
  • So it could be like to say "however that may be"?
    – Kiron
    Commented May 18, 2013 at 21:16
  • Possibly with a 'still' after 'jar'. Commented May 18, 2013 at 21:59

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