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When is just just?

Or, “If this, then that…?”

In this blog post, I will attempt to share some of my current thoughts and related ideas on “the word ‘just’.”


Like you, and everyone else, I’m many things.

On my About Me page, I write:

I'm a polymath, a generalist, and an autodidact. I'm an improviser, an artist, an inventor, and a philosopher. I'm a raconteur and a rounder. I'm a golfer, a bowler, and a gamer. I'm a son, a brother, a husband, and a dad. I'm passionate, skeptical, curious, intuitive, logical, creative, and reasonable. I value integrity and practice empathy. I’m motivated by doing good and making a difference. I'm all of those things, and much More Than That.

That is, like everyone, I’m not just any one thing.

Not Just?

In a 2011 study of the Oxford English Corpus (containing over 2 billion words), the word “just” was found to be the 57th most common English word (found in writing around the world). Why? There are many reasons, but one is because the word “just” is so versatile. The word "just" is a modifier that can be used to change (add to, clarify, qualify, restrict) the meaning of other words, and has many definitions, including…

As an adjective:

  • Factually fair; correct; proper; reasonable

  • Morally right; deserved; appropriate; righteous

As an adverb:

  • Exactly; Precisely

  • Very recently; in the immediate past

  • Barely; by a little

  • Perhaps; possibly

  • Quite; very; really

  • Only; Simply; merely

While many of these meanings can add to or extend the sense of another word or idea, the last meaning is used to restrict or limit.

So What?

Restricting or limiting the sense of a word or idea is sometimes…just. It is sometimes right, appropriate, proper, and reasonable to qualify another word or idea with the word "just". But sometimes, it is not.

Using “just” to mean “only, simply, merely” might create implications (conclusions that can be drawn from something although it is not explicitly stated). Explicitly stating “a thing is just something” might implicitly suggest “the thing is not something else”, as well. And, these implications might not be true.

“I am a software tester”. This is true. However, I have been called (and even referred to myself as) “Just a software tester”, inferring that I am not other things, as well. This is not true.

In My Experience, being more cognizant of what the word “just” might explicitly express and implicitly suggest has helped me better understand and enhance my self-image and self-esteem, and more effectively communicate with others.

I examine and explore the word "just" in my talk, “More Than That”.

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