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captious

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adjective cap·tious \ˈkap-shəs\

Definition of captious

  1. 1 :  marked by an often ill-natured inclination to stress faults and raise objections <captious critics>

  2. 2 :  calculated to confuse, entrap, or entangle in argument <a captious question>

captiously adverb
captiousness noun


Examples of captious in a sentence

  1. <a captious and cranky eater who's never met a vegetable he didn't hate>



Did You Know?

If you suspect that captious is a relative of capture and captivate, you're right. All of those words are related to the Latin verb capere, which means "to take." The direct ancestor of captious is captio, a Latin offspring of capere, which literally means "a taking" but which was also used to mean "a deception" or "a sophistic argument." Arguments labeled "captious" are likely to capture you in a figurative sense; they often entrap through subtly deceptive reasoning or trifling points. A captious individual is one who you might also dub "hypercritical," the sort of carping, censorious critic only too ready to point out minor faults or raise objections on trivial grounds.

Origin of captious

Middle English capcious, from Middle French or Latin; Middle French captieux, from Latin captiosus, from captio deception, verbal quibble, from capere to take — more at heave


First Known Use: 14th century

Synonym Discussion of captious

critical, hypercritical, faultfinding, captious, carping, censorious mean inclined to look for and point out faults and defects. critical may also imply an effort to see a thing clearly and truly in order to judge it fairly <a critical essay>. hypercritical suggests a tendency to judge by unreasonably strict standards <hypercritical disparagement of other people's work>. faultfinding implies a querulous or exacting temperament <a faultfinding reviewer>. captious suggests a readiness to detect trivial faults or raise objections on trivial grounds <a captious critic>. carping implies an ill-natured or perverse picking of flaws <a carping editorial>. censorious implies a disposition to be severely critical and condemnatory <the censorious tone of the review>.


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