as soon » assume

Chiefly in:   just assume

Classification: English

Spotted in the wild:

  • To me, shoes were as essential to golf as a mother-in-law suite is to a house—they may be there, but you’d just assume forget about them when they’re occupied. (
  • To be blunt, don’t go into to herpetology if you’re a whimp. For one thing, if you’re afraid of crocodiles, you probably just assume not study them up close. (monster Career Advice)
  • Given such outdated means of travel, I would just assume stay at home. (link)
  • I have a husband that would just assume eat, sleep, and work than have anything to do with me. (link)

Analyzed or reported by:

In the Livejournal dot_pedantic thread, commenter oneironaut suggests

> The originator was probably thinking of ‘assume’ in the sense of ‘to take upon oneself’ or ‘to undertake the duties of (an office)’ and probably didn’t know the wording of the expression at all, rather than knowing and trying to improve it, since it’s a shortened form of an idiom that isn’t even itself literally meaningful.

Mark Liberman agrees on the last point:

> If you think about it, “just as soon” isn’t exactly transparent. “…would equally early [Vb] …”? I don’t think so.

| link | entered by Chris Waigl, 2005/02/18 |


  1. 1

    Commentary by language hat , 2005/02/18 at 4:00 pm

    Interesting — I never had any problems with this idiom. But it may have made sense to me because I grew up with Ozark relatives who said “I’d sooner [do something unpleasant] than…” as well as “I’d just as soon,” so that the construction was part of a pattern rather than an isolated outcropping.

  2. 2

    Commentary by chris waigl , 2005/02/19 at 12:34 am

    I never found it problematic, either, but the transition from the concrete to the abstract sense of soon seems to baffle many. See the frequent problems with no sooner … than [Vb].

  3. 3

    Commentary by Aaron Davies , 2005/04/14 at 10:07 pm

    Spotted in the wild at /. today: “I’m all for GPL enforcement, but I’d just assume eat a copy of Windows XP before I’ll congratulate an attorney.” I see no logic whatsoever in this formulation.

  4. 4

    Commentary by Mat Hall , 2005/06/22 at 3:04 pm

    I also can’t see any possible sense in which anyone could, er, assume that the word is assume — as already mentioned, “I’d sooner x than y” is a perfectly understandable expression, so why there’s any confusion with “I’d just as soon x” (which is to all intents and purposes the same thing) is puzzling.

  5. 5

    Commentary by Frank , 2006/01/30 at 3:21 am

    I have heard only isolated occurrences of the correct “I’d just as soon.” Everyone around me says “I’d just assume.” People have even called me stupid when I’ve tried to explain it to them! The perils of living in Florida!

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