Q: When I watch television, especially sports programs, I hear the term “thus far” used instead of “so far,” and it grates on my ears. My daughter tells me that she hears university lecturers using the term. I would appreciate clarification on this small matter.
A: I find the expression “thus far” a bit stuffy, but there’s nothing wrong with using it to mean “so far.”
Both The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (4th ed.) and Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (11th ed.) list “so” as one of the acceptable meanings of “thus.” And M-W gives the phrase “thus far” as an example of “thus” used to mean “so” or “to this extent.”
In fact, this usage isn’t a new one either. The Oxford English Dictionary has citations going back to Anglo-Saxon days for “thus” used to mean “so” or “to this point.” The first citation is from Beowulf, but you’d have a hard time making out the Old English.
Here’s a more accessible example from the chorus in Shakespeare’s Henry V (1599):
Thus far, with rough and all-unable pen,
Our bending author hath pursu’d the story,
In little room confining mighty men,
Mangling by starts the full course of their glory.
I hope this helps clarify things for you.
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