ad hominem

[ ad -hom-uh-nuhm -nem, ahd‐ ]
/ æd ˈhɒm ə nəm -ˌnɛm, ɑd‐ /


attacking an opponent's character or motives rather than answering the argument or claim.
appealing to one's prejudices, emotions, or special interests rather than to one's intellect or reason.Compare ad feminam.



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Origin of ad hominem

First recorded in 1580–90 for def. 2, and in 1780–90 for def. 1; from Latin: literally, “to a person” Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021

British Dictionary definitions for ad hominem

ad hominem
/ Latin (æd ˈhɒmɪˌnɛm) /

adjective, adverb

directed against a person rather than against his arguments
based on or appealing to emotion rather than reason

Word Origin for ad hominem

literally: to the man
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Cultural definitions for ad hominem

ad hominem
[ (ad hom-uh-nem, ad hom-uh-nuhm) ]

A Latin expression meaning “to the man.” An ad hominem argument is one that relies on personal attacks rather than reason or substance.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.