Definition of captious
1 : marked by an often ill-natured inclination to stress faults and raise objections <captious critics>
2 : calculated to confuse, entrap, or entangle in argument <a captious question>
Examples of captious in a sentence
<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
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up captious? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).