The circular window was apparently made to match the shape of the sun.

Here apparently expresses doubt, but with a certain level of conviction: that was the intent of the person who designed the window. Is there a word similar to apparently but with less level of conviction? Almost as if the conclusion were a rough guess? Or something that the speaker made up?

  • 2
    @Elian - I don't think OP is asking for the difference between apparently and seemingly. – user66974 Oct 9 '15 at 8:33
  • 2
    @Elian I think Elian gave an answer with the comment. – user140086 Oct 9 '15 at 8:44
  • 2
    @Rathony Okay, I'll retract my close vote and post "seemingly" as a possible answer. :-) – Elian Oct 9 '15 at 9:35
  • 2
    @Jano - "it seems to me" "it would seem to be the case that" "it seemed to us" and so on are popular phrases for this. – Fattie Oct 9 '15 at 11:08
  • 1
    If you got the information from somewhere else, vs thinking of it on your own, "ostensibly" would fit. – Hot Licks Oct 9 '15 at 11:08

14 Answers 14


Seemingly is what you're looking for.

Seemingly vs. apparently


  • Is used when you have read or been told something, although you are not certain it is true. Apparently it's going to rain today.

  • Is used when the situation is different than what you thought it was. You know I told you Alice's party was on the 13th? Well, I just saw her and it's apparently on the 14th. How do you like that?


  • Appearing to be something, especially when this is not true. He remains confident and seemingly untroubled by his recent problems.

  • According to the facts that you know. The factory closure is seemingly inevitable.


  • Seemingly is indeed the best fit here. – Fattie Oct 9 '15 at 11:05
  • 1
    Jano - you often say "It would seem that the circular window was made to match the shape of the sun.". And note - a really common one is: It would seem to me... "It seemed to us that the window was made to fit the sun" "It would seem to me that the window was sized to fit the sun" and so on. – Fattie Oct 9 '15 at 11:06
  • I could substitute "apparently" for "seemingly" in the second-to-last example. – herisson Oct 9 '15 at 19:03
  • 1
    You could also say: "It appears that the circular window was made to match the shape of the sun." I do not know if this is a regional thing, but it is very common in the American English I am familiar with. – veryRandomMe Oct 10 '15 at 20:59


used to show that you do not ​believe that something you have been told is ​true: Well, the ​tickets are supposedly in the ​mail. ( -- Cambridge Dictionaries Online)

  • 4
    I think "seemingly" is a better fit here. "Supposedly" implies that the speaker heard this from another person but doubts whether it's true. "Seemingly" implies the speaker came to this conclusion himself, which is closer to what the OP seemingly wanted. – Ajedi32 Oct 9 '15 at 13:33
  • 2
    Reading the question again, I don't disagree. It wasn't clear to me what led the speaker to think the window might have been made to match the shape of the sun. If he read the suggestion in a guide book but wasn't convinced, then 'supposedly' would be correct. If it was a comparison he'd tentatively drawn himself, then 'seemingly' (or another word) might be better. The last sentence of the question suggests that the OP was thinking of the latter case. Some clarification from him would be welcome. – JHCL Oct 9 '15 at 14:03
  • Interesting how the very words we are discussing are relevant to the original question. It's like some answers could eat their own tail :) – Lamar Latrell Oct 9 '15 at 14:24


"As appears or is stated to be true, though not necessarily so"

'Apparently' as defined in the OED:

"As far as one knows or can see"

...only implies the converse.

So in my mind 'ostensibly' has a larger measure of doubt.

  • 1
    Does 'ostensibly' convey a weaker sense compared to 'apparently'? – user66974 Oct 9 '15 at 8:39
  • 1
    Does ostensibly mean the same thing as apparently? To me it is a near-synonym of superficially. – WS2 Oct 9 '15 at 8:48
  • 1
    @LamarLatrell But I still tend to think ostensibly introduces the idea of there being more than one reason - an ostensible one and a real underlying one which for some devious reason is unspoken. – WS2 Oct 9 '15 at 8:52
  • 1
    Ostensibly: vocabulary.com/dictionary/ostensibly – user66974 Oct 9 '15 at 8:52
  • 1
    I think that the main connotation of 'ostensibly' is that something is done "on purpose" to appear different from what it is..somethning that does not really match with the way the shape of the window was made. – user66974 Oct 9 '15 at 9:02


This might seem a strange fit, but it does convey less certainty and conviction.

"Apparently she's gone to the movies." "Possibly she's gone to the movies."

"Apparently he stole it." "Possibly he stole it."

  • Possibly is inclusive of a range of cases where there is a lot less certainty than I think the OP (possibly) had in mind :) – Lamar Latrell Oct 9 '15 at 11:26

I could go with presumably, which goes beyond "this may be what they were trying to do, but I don't know if they achieved it" to cast doubt even upon the inferred intent itself.

The circular window was presumably made to match the shape of the sun.

  • That seems like an odd interpretation of "presumably". "Presumably" means that you made a presumption, i.e. that you've assumed something with evidence. That's a great fit for the question, I'm just not sure about your explanation. Maybe I've misunderstood your meaning? – DCShannon Oct 10 '15 at 1:27

It changes the sentence form, but suggests or implies.

The circular shape of the window suggests it was made to match the shape of the sun.

  • I like "suggests" better than "seemingly". To my mind, it makes it clear that the speaker is stating an independent conclusion. – Michael J. Oct 9 '15 at 21:21
  • This makes sense, but you have to mangle the sentence to use the word. It doesn't slide in there nicely as a synonym would. – DCShannon Oct 10 '15 at 1:28

If some irony is acceptable, I like allegedly.


The choice depends on the level of skepticism or sarcasm you want to inject...

In order of preference I would offer:

  • ostensibly
  • putatively
  • purportedly
  • allegedly
  • Welcome to the English Language & Usage Stack Exchange! We typically prefer some level of detail as to why you are suggesting words, such as a definition. – Doc Oct 9 '15 at 18:47

The straightforward way to express this:

The circular window might have been made to match the shape of the sun.

Bonus: eliminates an adverb.

  • 1
    You don't like adverbs? – DCShannon Oct 10 '15 at 1:30
  • @DCShannon Google "avoid adverbs". – Kaz Oct 10 '15 at 1:45

Likely would indicate that the speaker is making a guess but is fairly certain about it.


I might use purportedly, were it for something recent, but if it concerned something 400 years old then: the window, according to legend, was made to fit the shape of the sun.


The circular window gave the illusion of being made to match the shape of the sun.

Definition of "illusion" from MW: a misleading image presented to the vision; perception of something objectively existing in such a way as to cause misinterpretation of its actual nature; something that looks or seems different from what it is, something that is false or not real but that seems to be true or real.

Example: Everyone knows that vertical stripes can be very slimming and give the illusion of height.

You may also replace illusion by "impression".

  • 1
    Personally, I prefer impression over illusion for this approach. – Lamar Latrell Oct 9 '15 at 11:27
  • 1
    "gave the impression" is a good answer that fits perfectly, whereas gave the illusion implies a level of certainty in it in fact being the other way. Gave the impression > a neutral comment that the window would appear to be made to match the shape of the sun. Gave> the illusion it does give that impression, but that impression is probably misleading. – Some_Guy Oct 9 '15 at 11:40
  • "gave the illusion" is wrong enough to warrant a downvote, but "gave the impression" is close to an upvote.. I'll just leave it be – DCShannon Oct 10 '15 at 1:31

How about on the face of it?

The circular window, on the face of it, was made to match the shape of the sun.


I'll put forth the more rarely used supposably, which is the adverb form of supposable.

: capable of being supposed : conceivable

It connotes less conviction because it sounds like a made-up word (arguably because it was implied to be made-up when used in the TV show Friends).

  • That's an incorrect usage of the word supposably. See Difference between “supposedly” and “supposably” – DCShannon Oct 10 '15 at 1:35
  • @DCShannon: Doesn't the provided definition say otherwise, since conceivably is a synonym? – jxh Oct 10 '15 at 5:11
  • The difference is very subtle. It's generally best to just avoid using 'supposably'. – DCShannon Oct 13 '15 at 19:34

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