The Meaning of So: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know the definition of so? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the word so, including its definition, etymology, usage, example sentences, and more!

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What does the word so mean?

The word so is incredibly versatile in usage and can be used in formal speech and formal contexts or casual English and informal contexts as an adverb, adjective, with an auxiliary verb, as a pronoun, and more. According to Collins English Dictionary and the American Heritage Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, the word so has the following meanings. The pronunciation of so is səʊ or soʊ.

First, so can be used as an adverb that refers back to someone or something that has just been mentioned, such as in the phrase, “I think so.” It can also be used as an adverb to mean that what is true for one party is also true for another. For example, “I enjoyed the movie and so did Dan.” It can be used with a conjunction with the word as to indicate that two things are similar. For example, “As the minds of the youth expand, so do the ones of old age.” So can be used as an adverb with actions or gestures to show someone a dimension of something as well as to indicate how to do something. So can be used as a conjunction to introduce the result of something, for example, “I am lactose intolerant, so that means I’ll have to pass on the ice cream.” Can be used as a conjunction to introduce a reason for something. For example, “Come with me to the mall so we can get our nails done.” How can be used as an adverb in conversations to introduce a new topic or a question about something that was set. For example,  “So I hear you’re a gymnast?” So can also be used as an adverb to show that you have accepted what someone just said. It can also be used as a convention, as in “so what?” to indicate that something is unimportant. It can be used as an adverb in front of another adverb or adjective to emphasize some quality, and it can also be used with that or as in a correlative clause  to emphasize a degree or something by its result or consequence.

This manner of utterance is used frequently as a sentence connector to an unspecified extent. It can be used to assist in expressing nearly anything, from resignation, indifference, and regrets to comparing a former case or previous statement with a latter case, to showing an exclamation of surprise  or amazement. It is often used as an adv. or conj. to create equative comparison or show a logical conclusion. It is used so frequently in many a different remark in the English language that it is difficult to state them all. 

The term so is also found as a note of any musical scale, in “do re mi fa so la ti do.” SO can also be an abbreviation for the term significant other, which is a way to refer to a lover, girlfriend, boyfriend, spouse, or other type of partner you are in a romantic relationship with without revealing their gender. So. is also an abbreviation for Somalia. 

How can the word so be used in a sentence?

The word so can be used in so many different settings and contexts in the English language! Using words in a sentence is a great way to memorize their definitions. You can also make flashcards or quizzes to test your knowledge. Try using this word of the day in a sentence today – below are several examples of so to get you started.

She was the first person to make the discovery of the new species of snakes, so they were named after her.

I was feeling too tired for the late movie, so we decided to chill at home for the evening. We scrolled through Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and shared funny findings that made the other laugh so. 

My dog was feeling frightened of the thunder and lightning, so we curled up on my bed together to watch a baseball game. 

The witness said, “So?” with sarcasm when questioned about his dominant behavior the night of the crime, as if it had nothing to do with the outcome of the case. 

I had mud all over by boots, so my mom made me take them off outside. I was so mad at her for making me run in from the porch with only my socks on.

What is the origin of the word so?

According to Etymonline, the word so has been used since Middle English amd comes from the Old English swa, Old English swā and Old English swæ which both meant “in this way” and “to that extent”. These come from the Proto-Germanic swa which is also the source of the Old Saxon swa, Middle Dutch swa, Old High German so, Old High German sō, Old Norse sva, Danish saa, Swedish så, Old Frisian sa, Dutch zo and Dutch zoo, Old Norse svā, German so and Gothic swa. These come from the Proto-Indo-European roots swo, which is also the source of the Greek hos, Old Latin suad, and Latin se. This word is used in both formal English and informal speech. 

Overall, the word so can be used in numerous different ways in the English language. This word is mostly used as an adverb and a conjunction, and is so versatile that it is difficult to list all of the ways in which it can be used! The term SO can also be sued as an acronym for significant other, which refers to a person’s romantic partner.


  1. so | Origin and meaning of so | Online Etymology Dictionary 
  2. So definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary