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This is a passage from an article on the origin of the idiom basket case.

The origins of this idiom are somewhat grisly. In World War I, there were cases reported which involved soldiers who lost both their arms and legs in battle. Any soldier in such a condition would be especially helpless, and other soldiers dubbed them "basket cases" in reference to the fact that they would have to be carried around by others. As such, the original origins of the phrase caused it to invoke physical helplessness.

As such is defined on Dictionary.com as:

a. as being what is indicated; in that capacity: An officer of the law, as such, is entitled to respect.
b. in itself or in themselves: The position, as such, does not appeal to him, but the salary is a lure.

I have a feeling that as such in this context means definition a from above? and I'm guessing indicate in definition a means to state or express, especially briefly or in a general way? But what about in that capacity? If capacity means position; function; role, then I'm guessing this part of definition a does not apply?

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Technically, the first definition, as being what is indicated; in that capacity: An officer of the law, as such, is entitled to respect, is correct. It's what has just been indicated by the preceding passage/text.

It simply means 'as a result,' 'because of this,' 'thus,' 'therefore,' etc.

If you want to define it in terms of to indicate, then it literally means as indicated by what was just said, or as a result of this.

But what about in that capacity? If capacity means position; function; role, then I'm guessing this part of definition a does not apply?

It does apply generally speaking. In that capacity, the original origins of the phrase caused it to invoke physical helplessness.

Capacity references the state of being limb-less and being carried around in a basket, which is mentioned in the sentence before it. That capacity invokes feelings of helplessness when the narrator thinks of the idiom basket case. In other words, that idiom invokes feelings of helplessness when thought of in the capacity of being limb-less and unable to move.

You're taking the definition of this transition phrase way too literally.

  • Actually I was wondering, what is the proper definition of capacity in this context? I know you have mentioned that it is the state of being limb-less and being carried around in a basket and that it invokes feelings of helplessness, but how do you define it? Is capacity here means a state then, or a situation? as in in that state, the original origins of the phrase caused it to invoke physical helplessness. or in that situation, the original origins of the phrase caused it to invoke physical helplessness. I'm guessing capacity here doesn't mean position; function; or role then.. – Theo Nov 22 '13 at 16:24
  • ..'cause it wouldn't make sense. – Theo Nov 22 '13 at 16:24
  • Capacity is generally a state of being or position/occupation. I'm not at all being smart here, but it's actually the capacity of being incapacitated. When the person thinks of the idiom basket case, in the capacity of incapacitation, it renders feelings of helplessness. – Giambattista Nov 22 '13 at 17:29
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The expression "as such" is not a synonym for "accordingly" and its equivalents. This is a modern and incorrect usage, although regrettably increasingly common. The expression means "in such capacity" or "in itself"; these are its sole correct meanings.

My guess is that the common misuse of this expression arises from the fact that there is frequently a close logical connection between use of "accordingly" and its equivalents and "as such", although the nuance is different.

By way of example, here are two correct sentences which convey substantially the same meaning, and which differ only in replacing "as such" with "accordingly":

I am a lawyer, and as such I am formally qualified to express opinions about legal matters.

I am a lawyer, and accordingly I am formally qualified to express opinions about legal matters.

These sentences convey substantially similar meanings, differing only with respect to the nuance, with the former emphasizing the speaker's status as a lawyer and the latter emphasizing the causal connection between status and result. A careless reader, disregarding or unable to identify this difference in nuance, might determine from this that "as such" and "accordingly" are synonyms.

However, in an example used above, we can see that they are not synonyms. The example reads, "An officer of the law, as such, is entitled to respect."

Clearly, we cannot substitute "accordingly" for "as such" in this sentence. The conclusion is obvious: the two terms mean different things, and cannot be used interchangeably.

In light of the above, the usage of "as such" cited in the "basket case" excerpt above appears to me to represent the modern, incorrect usage of this expression. Although such usage has regrettably become somewhat common, I would recommend against adopting it.

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The phrase as such means "like that," but not "and so" or "therefore."

For example:

Do not behave as such.

A few more examples:

The thing has been done already. There is nothing more to do about it. So we have to take it as such.

Doing things as such will bring about disaster. Try to do things a better way.

  • 1
    Mercy: Don't add comments to your answer; edit your answer to improve it instead. – J.R. Sep 19 '18 at 14:10

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