If you will

If you will, meaning if you will allow me to use this phrase, is a hedge phrase, and it could usually be removed. Writers often use it to apologize for a weak phrase—often a bad metaphor, a corny coinage, or a phrase the writer is reluctant to use. And sometimes it’s used when a writer doesn’t trust his or her readers to understand a metaphor—for example:

A musical chairs with cars, if you will. [Savannah Now]

[It] becomes your filing cabinet, if you will, for all those end-of-life papers that you’re dealing with. [Twin Cities Pioneer Press]

In other cases, writers use if you will simply because it sounds like the type of phrase people use when being clever or saying something profound—for instance:

And so it seems that the lapse, the failure to connect the dots, if you will, really is more egregious than we even knew about. [Fox News]

These are, if you will, the team’s twin Achilles heels. [Ottawa Citizen]

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