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I checked out its meaning on the web and the common one I have found is "speaking imprecisely", but instinctively I thought it would be like "almost", for example:

The task assigned is more or less over, only formatting is left to be done.

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  • That's close enough.
    – user21497
    Dec 11, 2012 at 7:29
  • more or less Dec 11, 2012 at 8:36
  • Please read our blog post about how to write good meaning questions. Dec 11, 2012 at 8:38
  • Logically, we shouldn't use it to mean almost as that negates the 'more' possibility - but we do. Dec 11, 2012 at 10:12
  • @Edwin Ashworth: I see no reason to look at it that way. An expanded form might be [a small amount] more or less, in just the same way as give or take [a small amount]. I often hear/use plus or minus used in exactly the same way. Dec 12, 2012 at 0:28

3 Answers 3

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I would say it translates to roughly, around, or about a little better than almost. (When used for numerical estimates, roughly implies the number could be off by a little bit in either direction; while almost sometimes implies that, if the number is off, it's probably too low, rather than too high.)

Another relatively common way to say it is give or take:

I ran about 7 kilometers yesterday, give or take.

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Yes. According to Thesaurus.com, which says that the definition is "approximately".

Synonyms are:

about, almost, around, ballpark figure, bordering on, circa, close to, in the ballpark, in the neighborhood of, in the vicinity of, just about, not far from, not quite, on average, relatively, roughly, thereabouts, very close

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More or Less :)

They both refer to an approximation, but "almost" would serve better when something was not quite meeting a criterion (I almost made the bus, but had to walk home instead), while "more or less" serves better when something meets a criterion well enough that we can consider it to have done so (After trick-and-treating, we shared the sweets more or less equally).

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  • you know what I am a huge fan of recursion, this is going down as one of the examples :)
    – Max
    Dec 11, 2012 at 13:05

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