[OED] inasmuch {adverb} = [Etymology:]
originally 3 words in as much (in northern Middle English in als mikel), subsequently sometimes written as 2 words, in asmuch, and now (especially since 17th cent.) as one.

I. In phrase inasmuch AS. [=] In so far as, [...], in proportion as,

†3. in as much (Notice the absence of as)
= [4.] In an equal or like degree, likewise.

[Beware: Only definition I contains the 4th AS; definition 3 lacks it.]

I already understand and so ask NOT about the definitions 1 and 3 above. Instead, I ask for a linguistic analysis of inasmuch (and similar syntagmas).
To parse it, I consider its original form as 3 separate words (in as much), as stated above.

1. In in as much, what do the 3 separate words mean individually?
For each of the 3 words, which definition from OED matches?
OED is linked here for your convenience: in, as, much.

2. How did the bolded 3 morphemes combine to mean definition 4? For example, 3 contains no word that means degree in definition 4. So whence did degree originate?

Please expose and explain all hidden, missing semantic drifts.

  • 1
    To the extent that these phrases can/should be broken down in a slavishly literal way, do you not consider 'as much' to refer to degree? If you're fine with 'in (so far) as' and 'in (proportion) as', it seems that 'as much' is one more transparent variation. Jul 16, 2015 at 19:45
  • @JeremyNeedle Thanks. These 3 words confuse me; so I don't understand how 'as much' refers to degree here. Also, 'in (so far) as' also confuses me. To clarify, I am NOT fine with 'in (so far) as' and 'in (proportion) as'.
    – user5306
    Jul 16, 2015 at 19:49
  • 1
    Ah, I see. This is a little confusing, because 'much' is perhaps always about degree (quantity), and 'as much (as)' is a very basic expression of degree equivalence. 'Far' is degree of distance (including metaphorically), and 'so' is used (here) for equivalence; elsewhere, 'so' could indicate a large degree ("It is so far." ~ 'very'). It is true that 'in proportion as' is a rarer variant of 'in proportion to', but these prepositions are basically arbitrary in usage. This seems more appropriate for ELL or ELU. Jul 16, 2015 at 20:02

1 Answer 1


You won't clarify the expression "inasmuch as" by parsing. It is an idiomatic word formation and a conjunction and the only way to clarify is to show how the word elements, in, as, much, as can develop the special sense. A similar formation is insofar as, which has a parallel in German "insofern als".

  • 1
    While this is very often the case, I actually think inasmuch, insofar, etc. have quite transparent semantic composition: 'to the extent that', 'as much as', etc. Jul 18, 2015 at 13:26

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