[ pret-suhl ]
/ ˈprɛt səl /
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See synonyms for: pretzel / pretzels on Thesaurus.com

a crisp, dry biscuit, usually in the form of a knot or stick, salted on the outside.
a larger version of this, made of soft, chewy bread dough.
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Origin of pretzel

1815–25, Americanism;<German Pretzel, variant of Bretzel;Old High German brizzila<Medieval Latin bracellusbracelet
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does pretzel logic mean?

Pretzel logic is an expression used to describe someone’s “twisted reasoning.”

Where did the term pretzel logic come from?

A classic pretzel is circular, full of holes, and twists in on itself—just like faulty reasoning. Hence the (delicious) expression, pretzel logic. The term is evidenced by at least 1967 in American Opinion, a magazine of the far-right, anticommunist John Birch Society.

Pretzel logic is used to describe inconsistent, illogical thinking that, once scrutinized, doesn’t stand up. It’s similar to the term illogic.

Indeed, the phrase pretzel logic frequently appears in political contexts, used in an effort to call out opponents’ logical fallacies or to characterize someone’s twisted line of reasoning or justifications.

The term spread in the 1980–90s, but it is closely associated with the acclaimed 1974 album and title track Pretzel Logic by rock band Steely Dan. The song is, apparently, about reckoning with the passage of time.

How to use the term pretzel logic

Arguments that are convoluted or seen as such are popularly characterized as pretzel logic, especially in political contexts.

Puns abound around pretzel logic, especially in food contexts, and the phrase has been used for grabby headlines.

Additionally, searches for pretzel logic quickly lead to all things Steely Dan.

More examples of pretzel logic:

“Claiming a dessert didn’t exist until it had a published recipe to validate it is pretzel logic.”
Keys Weekly, February 2019


This content is not meant to be a formal definition of this term. Rather, it is an informal summary that seeks to provide supplemental information and context important to know or keep in mind about the term’s history, meaning, and usage.

How to use pretzel in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for pretzel

/ (ˈprɛtsəl) /

a brittle savoury biscuit, in the form of a knot or stick, glazed and salted on the outside, eaten esp in Germany and the US

Word Origin for pretzel

C19: from German, from Old High German brezitella; perhaps related to Medieval Latin bracellus bracelet, from Latin bracchium arm
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