It's a pretty simple question, but just to clarify, I am talking about the expression used by itself, not just in a sentence.

So not:

— Have you seen Ted?
— Yes! He flew through here as if his pants were on fire!

But rather:

— Why are you denying it? You clearly like her...
— Me, like her? As if.

2 Answers 2


The OED dates it to circa 1903, from the book The Pit: A Story of Chicago by Frank Norris, with this citation :

'Maybe he'll come up and speak to us.’ ‘Oh, as if!’ contradicted Laura.

The Merriam-Webster reference is probably to the Old English use of "as if" in in the sense 'as the case would be if'.

  • 1
    Thanks, Barrie. When you say "very early", did it give a date? Commented Dec 19, 2011 at 16:16
  • 1
    Ok, a little Googling has revealed that quote to be from "The Pit: A Story of Chicago" by Frank Norris. Google Books has this dated as 1798, which is clearly a misunderstanding by the person who digitized it. It was apparently actually first published in 1902. So very early 20th century indeed! Commented Dec 19, 2011 at 16:21

Merriam-Webster records its first use in the 13th century.

  • As a stand-alone expression? Commented Dec 19, 2011 at 6:50
  • 3
    Unfortunately, there was no example given. My guess is that no, it was referring to its use as a conjunction. However, they aren't as different as you might think. "As if" as an expression is an elliptic form of "As if that were true", so the meaning stays the same.
    – Irene
    Commented Dec 19, 2011 at 6:53

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