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Kurt Vonnegut uses "and so on" a good deal to end his sentences in Breakfast of Champions.

In some places people would actually try to eat mud or such on gravel while babies were being born just a few feet away. And so on.

Of all the creatures in the Universe, only Dwayne was thinking and feeling and worrying and planning and so on.

It said to simply anybody, in effect, “Hey—guess what: You’re the only creature with free will. How does that make you feel?” And so on.

He would get down on the floor and roll around with Sparky, and he would say things like, “You and me, Spark,” and “How’s my old buddy?" and so on.

He would kid Bill about that. “How’s the old respiration, Bill?” he’d say, or, “Seems like you’ve got a touch of the old emphysema, Bill,” or, “We never discussed what kind of a funeral you want, Bill. You never even told me what your religion is.” And so on.

The expression was first used by news photographers, who often got to see up women’s skirts at accidents and sporting events and from underneath fire escapes and so on.

“Vern’s wife thinks Vem is trying to turn her brains into plutonium,” said Dwayne. “What’s plutonium?” said Harry, and so on.

My editor once changed my "and so on" to "and so forth" in a story.

Why?

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  • 3
    Did you ask your editor?
    – user 66974
    May 30, 2021 at 21:01
  • “and so on” appears to be more commonly use than “and so forth” which is probably a bit more formal in usage. books.google.com/ngrams/…
    – user 66974
    May 30, 2021 at 21:06
  • Some even chain the phrases together - and so on, and so forth.
    – Lawrence
    May 31, 2021 at 13:36
  • 1
    Your editor thought that and so forth was somehow more appropriate to the style of whatever the publication was. While it is debatable whether the editor was right about that, the fact that and so on fitted well the style of Vonegut's prose, is not dispostive of whether it fits well the style of some different text.
    – jsw29
    May 31, 2021 at 18:56

1 Answer 1

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There isn't a difference in meaning according to any dictionary I consulted. Collins, Macmillan, Dictionary.com (American Heritage), Cambridge, and Merriam-Webster all either define one in terms of the other ("and so on: and so forth") or have a joint entry for both terms. Different people may have personal prejudices, and may feel "forth" sounds more sophisticated or fancy, or may prefer the simple language of "and so on".

References:

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