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Macmillan dictionary says:

Dare I say:

Used when you are saying something that you think other people may not like:

  • This famous novel is a little, dare I say it, dull.

Or as Longman says:

Spoken - Formal --- It is used when saying something that you think people may not accept or believe:

  • I thought the play was, dare I say it, boring.

And the same goes with other dictionaries. But although I have read all the definitions, still I don't know:

  1. Is it used in current English or not (I have never heard an American uses it! Perhaps it is mainly BrE!) Please let me know about it.

  2. I don't really understand its meaning. Is it used as an apology before a predictable possible insult/annoying statement/disapproving comment etc.?

  3. Can we use "I dare say" instead of "dare I say"?

Added: I read the similar thread before posting my thread to the forum. But "dare I say" and "I dare say" are two absolutely different concepts that I found it necessary to be considered separately.

Meanwhile, @Damkerng T. mentioned that:

Dare I say (it) mainly British spoken formal [**it is not clear that the statement is understood / used by Americans too.]

He also mentioned:

Used when you are saying something that you think other people may not like. -- [but it doesn't convey what would be formed in a native speaker's mind after hearing this statement!]

Also he said:

Typically, I personally don't say either I dare say (sometimes written I daresay) or dare I say (it). Instead of "I dare say", I usually say these:

I would say ... (or I'd say) - I use this to express my opinion, without much assertive -- [I don't find these two phrases "I'd say" and "I dare say" the same!]

  • 1
    This phrase is fairly common in BrE, although much more likely to come up in formal conversations than day to day chat. This is because, as you mention in your second questions, it is a sort of apology. The next thing you'll say in the sentence might be considered contravention and you're warning the listeners that you are aware of that and so are treading lightly. Unfortunately, having typed that out and looking for a reference, I found an older ELL SE post so am marking duplicate! – Bee Jul 12 at 9:32
  • Possible duplicate of Difference and usage between "I dare say" and "dare I say it" – Bee Jul 12 at 9:32
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Is it used in current English or not (I have never heard an American uses it! Perhaps it is mainly BrE!) Please let me know about it.

Yes, it is used in modern American and British English. In fact, according to Google, its popularity has increased dramatically over the last 60 years. It does sound slightly stiff and formal, at least in AmE, and when used it gives a bit of a dramatic flourish to a statement.

I don't really understand its meaning. Is it used as an apology before a predictable possible insult/annoying statement/disapproving comment etc.?

It's not an apology, but more like an admission by the speaker that they understand that what they're about to say may be bold, unpopular or controversial. The interjection is short for "Do I dare say this?" or "Am I bold/brave enough to say this?"

Can we use "I dare say" instead of "dare I say"?

Yes, although unlike "dare I say" this form has actually decreased in popularity.

  • 1
    I also think the question is directed at the speaker themselves and there's usually an unspoken yes, I do dare to say it before saying whatever it is. Also agree with @A-friend that I dare say is slightly different and used in a different context - that of I'm quite sure of it. E.g. that bike will be the death of him, I dare say which is not so quite the same as being outspoken on a subject. (at least to this BrE native speaker) – Smock Jul 12 at 12:29

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