Quantcast
Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary
1

ad hominem

play
adjective ad ho·mi·nem \(ˈ)ad-ˈhä-mə-ˌnem, -nəm\

Definition of ad hominem

  1. 1 :  appealing to feelings or prejudices rather than intellect

  2. 2 :  marked by or being an attack on an opponent's character rather than by an answer to the contentions made



Did You Know?

Ad hominem literally means "to the person" in New Latin (Latin as first used in post-medieval texts). In centuries past, this adjective usually modified "argument." An "argument ad hominem" (or "argumentum ad hominem," to use the full New Latin phrase) was a valid method of persuasion by which a person took advantage of his or her opponent's interests or feelings in a debate, instead of just sticking to general principles. The newer sense of "ad hominem," which suggests an attack on an opponent's character instead of his or her argument, appeared only in the last century, but it is the sense more often heard today. The word still refers to putting personal issues above other matters, but perhaps because of its old association with "argument," "ad hominem" has become, in effect, "against the person."

Origin of ad hominem

New Latin, literally, to the person


First Known Use: 1598


2

ad hominem

adverb ad ho·mi·nem

Definition of ad hominem

  1. :  in an ad hominem manner <was arguing ad hominem>



1962

First Known Use of ad hominem

1962


Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up ad hominem? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

marked by grandiloquent style

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

alt-5746713d76276

Which of these is a synonym of nonplus?

disapprove soothe perplex reduce
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ