in a manner of speaking


  1. a way of doing, being done, or happening; mode of action, occurrence, etc.: I don’t like the manner in which he complained.
  2. manners,
    1. the prevailing customs, ways of living, and habits of a people, class, period, etc.; mores: The novels of Jane Austen are concerned with the manners of her time.
    2. ways of behaving with reference to polite standards; social comportment: That child has good manners.
  3. a person’s outward bearing; way of speaking to and treating others: She has a charming manner.
  4. characteristic or customary way of doing, making, saying, etc.: houses built in the 19th-century manner.
  5. air of distinction: That old gentleman had quite a manner.
  6. (used with a singular or plural verb) kind; sort: What manner of man is he? All manner of things were happening.
  7. characteristic style in art, literature, or the like: verses in the manner of Spenser.
  8. Obsolete.
    1. nature; character.
    2. guise; fashion.

  1. by all manner of means, by all means; certainly.
  2. by no manner of means, under no circumstances; by no means; certainly not: She was by no manner of means a frivolous person.
  3. in a manner, so to speak; after a fashion; somewhat.
  4. in a manner of speaking, in a way; as it were; so to speak: We were, in a manner of speaking, babes in the woods.
  5. to the manner born,
    1. accustomed by birth to a high position: He was a gentleman to the manner born.
    2. used to a particular custom, activity, or role from birth.


  1. a way of doing or being
  2. a person’s bearing and behaviourshe had a cool manner
  3. the style or customary way of doing or accomplishing somethingsculpture in the Greek manner
  4. type or kindwhat manner of man is this?
  5. mannered style, as in art; mannerism
  6. by all manner of means certainly; of course
  7. by no manner of means definitely nothe was by no manner of means a cruel man
  8. in a manner of speaking in a way; so to speak
  9. to the manner born naturally fitted to a specified role or activity

c.1200, “kind, sort, variety,” from Anglo-French manere, Old French maniere “fashion, method, manner, way; appearance, bearing; custom” (12c., Modern French manière), from Vulgar Latin *manaria (source of Spanish manera, Portuguese maneira, Italian maniera), from fem. of Latin manuarius “belonging to the hand,” from manus “hand” (see manual (adj.)). The French word was borrowed by other Germanic languages, e.g. Dutch manier, German manier, Swedish maner.

Meaning “customary practice” is from c.1300. Senses of “way of doing something; a personal habit or way of doing; way of conducting oneself toward others” are from c.1300. Meaning “specific nature, form, way something happens” is mid-14c. Of literature from 1660s. Most figurative meanings derive from the original sense “method of handling” which was extended when the word was used to translate Latin modus “method.” Phrase manner of speaking is recorded from 1530s. To the manner born (“Hamlet” I iv.15) generally is used incorrectly and means “destined by birth to be subject to the custom.”

In a way; so to speak. For example, He was, in a manner of speaking, asked to leave the group. [Late 1800s]

see all kinds (manner of); by all (manner of) means; company manners; in a manner of speaking; to the manner born.

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