Thursday, January 29, 2009

What IF?

Pronunciation: \ˈif, əf\
Function: conjunction
Etymology: Middle English, from Old English gif; akin to Old High German ibu if Date: before 12th century
1 a: in the event that b: allowing that c: on the assumption that d: on condition that
2: whether (asked if the mail had come) (I doubt if I'll pass the course)
3—used as a function word to introduce an exclamation expressing a wish
4: even though : although perhaps (an interesting if untenable argument)
5: and perhaps not even (few if any changes are expected) —often used with not (difficult if not impossible)
— if anything : on the contrary even : perhaps even (if anything, you ought to apologize)

As an English teacher and self-proclaimed wordsmith I knew all the meanings of IF, or so I thought. Today I learned about a new definition; sometimes irony is less than poetic.

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