I read a sentence in "Word Power Made Easy" which was:

Believe me the old saw that claims you cannot teach an old dog new tricks is a baseless, if popular, superstition.

Does the "if popular" part mean that the superstition is baseless "only if" it is popular or does it mean that superstition is baseless "even if" it is popular? Don't you think the right word should have been written before "if" by the author?

  • "If" in this case is basically meaning despite. "It is a baseless superstition despite being a popular one."
    – Showsni
    Commented May 21, 2019 at 11:26

1 Answer 1


The sentence is grammatically correct, and it means that the superstition is baseless, even if it is popular. It's a sentence construction that shows that two seemingly contradicting ideas are simultaneously true: "This usage of Javascript code is valid, if not aesthetically pleasing."


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