Sobeit and So Be It

By Maeve Maddox

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Jean writes:

Could you do a feature on “so be it” and “sobeit?”  I thought for sure it was always written as three words until a discussion on a court reporters’ message board came up about a proofreader saying that it should be a one-word word.

Sobeit is a word and so be it is a clause. Neither is much used in ordinary conversation or writing, but legal language tends to be on the old-fashioned side.

The clause so be it is a subjunctive expression meaning “let it be so.” Example:

Aladdin: I want a huge palace with a thousand servants and a swimming pool.

Genie: So be it!

Sobeit can be used as conjunction or as a noun.

As a conjunction sobeit means “provided that, if.” Example:

I will finish this 800-page novel, sobeit I live long enough.

Sobeit can also be used as a noun, as in this example from the OED:

Thou answerest me an houre to a Sexton with a Sobeit or Amen.

Whether to spell it as one word or write it out as three words depends upon the context.

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5 Responses to “Sobeit and So Be It”

  • Brad K.

    Thank you, Maeve. That last example, Sobeit as a noun, gave me a good laugh. I love it!

  • Jon

    I’ve never seen ‘sobeit’ as a single word, but would’ve guessed that it comes from the same era as ‘albeit’.

    Until, that is, suggested sobeit being from 1575 and albeit being from 1385. Both words – if the first page of google results are to be believed – would seem to be far more often defined than they are actually used.

  • Shirley, in Berkeley

    Sobeit sounds like legal-speak to me. Working as a temp for a lawyer, I asked about their dropping the “e” from “therefore” and was told that it was legal usage: “therefor” meant “for that,” and with an “e” on the end, meant “hence.”

  • Lily

    Hmmm, I would also have guessed a relationship, or at least meaning parallel with ‘albeit’. Then again, I’d never heard of ‘sobeit’ before today, so I guess I live and learn.

  • Laura

    I use it now and again, I think it’s useful to explain a situation you accept.

    The example I used today was something along the lines of:
    ‘I need to see the doctor but if I have to wait three hours for her to be free, sobeit’.

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