[ suh-poh-zid-lee ]
/ səˈpoʊ zɪd li /
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according to what is falsely claimed, assumed, or imagined: In fact, the supposedly "simple" work of digging holes, cutting down trees, and blasting snowdrifts offered her an education of the hands and head.
according to what is accepted or believed, without positive knowledge: Next weekend it's supposedly getting a bit colder again, but I think that winter is over.
Should you take this quiz on “shall” versus “should”? It should prove to be a quick challenge!
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Which form is used to state an obligation or duty someone has?

Origin of supposedly


supposably, supposedly
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What’s the difference between supposedly and supposably?

Supposedly means according to what is believed or accepted, without actually knowing for sure, as in Supposedly, he’s bringing the cake. Sometimes, supposedly means according to what is falsely claimed, assumed, or imagined, as in The supposedly safe ride injured eight people. Supposably is much less commonly used and means about the same thing as presumably or conceivably—as may be assumed, imagined, or supposed to be correct, as in We could supposably make the trip in a single day, but that would be pushing it.  

Yes, supposably is a “real word.” In a lot of cases, though, it’s mistakenly used in place of supposedly. Still, its meaning may sometimes actually fit the situation (even if the person who said it really meant supposedly).

Trying to remember the difference between the meaning of the two words can be tricky because both relate to what is believed or assumed and are adverbs (they’re used to modify or describe verbs or adjectives or even entire statements).

Here’s a great way to keep them straight: remember that supposably usually expresses the possibility that something might or could happen or be true, while supposedly often expresses doubt or uncertainty about something happening or being true.

Some people avoid using supposably altogether, instead opting for synonyms like presumably and conceivably, which are more common—and more likely to be clearly understood.

Here’s an example of supposedly and supposably used correctly in a sentence.

Example: With the number of new developers we’re supposedly hiring, we could supposably finish the project by the end of the summer. 

Want to learn more? Read the full breakdown of the difference between supposedly and supposably.

Quiz yourself on supposedly vs. supposably!

Should supposedly or supposably be used in the following sentence?

He _____ did the laundry, but the hamper is still full.

How to use supposedly in a sentence