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Word of the Day
Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Definitions for sophistry

  1. a subtle, tricky, superficially plausible, but generally fallacious method of reasoning.
  2. a false argument; sophism.

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Citations for sophistry
He intensifies the discords upon a subject which many seem bent upon befogging and distracting by all the arts of ingenious sophistry. He professes to be friendly to copyright, and then reasons his way to the destruction of all copyright by denying that there is any right or wrong in the matter. , "Matthew Arnold on Copyright," The Popular Science Monthly, May to October, 1880
It is a justification that does not for a moment convince him. It is sophistry, that is all, contemptible sophistry. J. M. Coetzee, Scenes from Provincial Life: Boyhood, Youth, Summertime, 2011
Origin of sophistry
The Greek adjective sophós (with its derivatives) forms part of many words that are ambiguous, such as sophisticated and sophistication, or have unfavorable meanings, such as sophistry or sophister. Positive meanings for sophós include the noun philosophía “philosophy” and the proper name Sophocles “famous for wisdom.” The ambiguity is basic in Greek and lies at some of the basic meanings of sophós. Its fundamental meaning is "skilled in a craft or handicraft (such as pottery or stone carving) or art (such as poetry or writing speeches)"; then "clever in an art or craft, clever in practical affairs (such as teaching for a profit), cunning, shrewd"; and finally, "learned in the sciences, abstruse." Sophistry entered English in the 14th century.