Me: Why did the man in [Jack London’s] “To Build a Fire” ignore the warnings against traveling during the cold snap?
Student: ‘Cuz he’s an idiot.
Me: That’s what you’d think, but there’s reason to believe he was actually very intelligent.
Student: I’m just sayin’.
I admit — it drove me a little nuts.
Me: Just saying? I know you were just saying! You clearly weren’t writing, or acting it out in mime, or communicating by mental telepathy! We were both just saying. I was saying a question, you were saying the answer, and I was saying it was incorrect. You were just saying something ignorant!
I’m pretty sure I never actually said these words out loud, but I sure thought them. I remember asking students what they meant when they said, just sayin’. All I got were shrugs. So, I shrugged it off myself. Another incomprehensible slang thing. It was just something kids said when they didn’t know what else to say.
But here we are, more than a decade later, and I’m still hearing it. Only now, I hear it all the time from adults and read it in publications. Yesterday I read a ranting political Facebook post that ended with “…either amend the Constitution or shut up and follow it. Just sayin’.”
It’s everywhere, but what does it mean? I know this tag-on expression (it always gets tacked on at the end of a statement) must have some kind of intended meaning. What’s odd is that I’ve never found anyone who uses the expression who can effectively explain it. They say it but don’t know what it means themselves. Yet they always mean something by it.
Interested in this linguistic phenomenon, I, of course, Googled it and found lots of help in an unofficial online Urban Dictionary. This site welcomes submitted definitions and then allows readers to vote for their favorites. Here’s the top definition for just sayin‘:
Just sayin‘: a term coined to be used at the end of something insulting or offensive to take the heat off you when you say it.
For example:Jordan: Anna you have really let yourself go.
Anna: What is your problem?!
Jordan: Just sayin’
Anna: Oh well in that case, I suppose it’s okay.
I think we can nuance the expression a little more though. Most users seem to be saying that they are simply stating objective truth that has little to do with them. It’s shorthand for “I’m just saying what is already known to be true. Don’t blame me.”
Yes. I think that’s it. Just sayin’ explained. If you disagree, feel free to offer alternative definitions in the comments. If you don’t, you’re a coward. Just sayin’.
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