in so many words

Idioms & Phrases

in so many words

In those precise words; also, plainly, directly. For example, He didn't tell me in so many words, but I understood that he planned to apply, or, as Charles Dickens put it in Sketches by "Boz" (1836): "That the Lord Mayor had threatened in so many words to pull down the London Bridge." [Late 1600s]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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