‘As An Aside’: Definition, Meaning, and Examples

By Shanea Patterson, updated on April 4, 2023

Have you heard someone say the phrase ‘as an aside’ and wondered what they meant? We’ll clear that up in this article, plus teach you the definition and origin. Plus, you’ll learn how to use it in a sentence.

In short:

  • ‘As an aside’ is an expression that refers to indirect communication or a discussion that isn’t supposed to be heard by everyone.

Essentially, it’s used in the theater when a character wants to provide the audience with information but doesn’t want the other characters to hear.

What Does ‘As an Aside’ Mean?

The phrase ‘as an aside’ is used to describe indirect communication or communication that isn’t meant to be heard by other people. It’s used in the theater when one character speaks directly to the audience (and the other characters are not aware of this monologue).

  • This expression isn’t all that common in the English language.

However, a variation of the phrase is used in the legal field.

The word ‘aside’ in legal terms means:

  • Cancel

So, if you wanted a judge to cancel a court order, you would ask the court to set it ‘aside’ or cancel it. At that point, you’d have to file a motion to set aside or a motion to vacate.

Where Does ‘As an Aside’ Come From?

The ‘aside’ comes from Elizabethan England and was first introduced in the late sixteenth century. This was around the time that stages changed from the large, formal amphitheaters that were famous in ancient Greece to the smaller, more intimate stages that allowed actors to be a lot closer to the audience.

Naturally, with this came the need for actors to address the audience directly. That’s when the aside came about, and it became a popular part of plays all throughout Europe, eventually spreading to the rest of the world.

William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare was well-known for using asides in his plays, some of his most famous examples being Hamlet. In the opening scene of the play, King Claudius, Hamlet’s uncle, and stepfather, addresses Hamlet as his son and nephew.

After this, Hamlet famously addresses the audience in an aside, saying to the audience:

 ‘A little more than kin and less than kind.’

Macbeth is another example of a Shakespeare play that makes use of asides. In the play, Macbeth becomes the king of Scotland and makes some pretty questionable decisions to obtain the throne.

In Act 4, Macbeth has an aside in which he reveals how paranoid he is that he’s going to lose his position as king.

Other plays that feature asides include:

  • Romeo and Juliet (Shakespeare)
  • Othello (Shakespeare)
  • The Crucible (Arthur Miller)
  • Cherry Orchard (Anton Chekhov)

Examples of ‘As an Aside’ in Sentences

How would ‘as an aside’ be used in a sentence?

Let’s take a look at some examples:

  • At his sister’s wedding, my best friend told me as an aside that he’s gay. I wasn’t sure how to react because I was so surprised, but I wanted to be supportive, so I hugged him.
  • I was trying to tell my brother in an aside that I was moving, but his girlfriend would hover over him at twenty-minute intervals. I couldn’t even get him alone to tell him my big news without everyone hearing.
  • We went to see a play after school today, and the main character revealed a huge secret in the opening scene as an aside. It was juicy! I might go see that play again.
  • My cousin was going through a hard time, so at the family barbecue, I told him as an aside that he would be okay.
  • The last movie I saw was so anti-climactic. Nothing really happened the whole movie until the end when the mom told the daughter in an aside that she was dying. It made no sense.
  • When I couldn’t see the game at the baseball stadium, a kind man offered to switch seats with me in an aside, giving me a bird’s eye view of the game.
  • In this play, characters are continually revealing things as an aside. It’s actually making the play better. Whoever wrote this is a genius!
  • At my photo shoot, the director told me in an aside that I needed to do better. I’m glad he didn’t embarrass me in front of the other models and the crew. This modeling thing has to work out well for me if I’m going to pay my way through college.

Other Ways to Say ‘As an Aside’ 

What other words and phrases convey the same meaning as ‘as an aside’?

  • By the way
  • Casually
  • Parenthetically
  • Apropos
  • En passant
  • Apart from
  • Barring
  • Besides
  • By the by
  • Excepting
  • Separate
  • Afar
  • Alone
  • Aloof
  • Apiece
  • Each
  • Excluding
  • In addition to
  • Elsewhere

Final Advice on ‘As an Aside’

To recap, we learned the following:

  • ‘As an aside’ is an expression that refers to indirect communication or a discussion that isn’t supposed to be heard by some people in a certain setting.

Essentially, it’s used in the theater when a character wants to provide the audience with information but doesn’t want the other characters to hear.

If you ever have trouble using this phrase, you can always come back to review what you learned. We’ve got a ton of content on Idioms you might find useful as you’re learning the language. Go check it out anytime and feel free to come back whenever you need to.

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Written By:
Shanea Patterson
Shanea Patterson is a writer based in New York and loves writing for brands big and small. She has a master's degree in professional writing from New York University and a bachelor's degree in English from Mercy College.

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