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November 02, 2013

Word of the Day

  • eristic
  • audio pronunciation
  • \ih-RISS-tik\
  • DEFINITION

adjective

: characterized by disputatious and often subtle and specious reasoning
  • EXAMPLES

"Dialectical argument is a cooperative, two-sided truth-seeking art that requires a constructive and balanced attitude, whereas eristic dialogue is one-sided, quarrelsome, and antagonistic." — From Douglas Walton's 1999 book One-Sided Arguments

"Does free speech tend to move toward the truth or away from it? When does it evolve into a better collective understanding? When does it collapse into … the pointless and eristic game of talking the other guy into crying 'uncle'?" — From an article by Mattathias Schwartz in the New York Times Magazine, August 3, 2008

  • DID YOU KNOW?

"Eristic" means "argumentative" as well as logically invalid. Someone prone to eristic arguments probably causes a fair amount of strife amongst his or her conversational partners. It's no surprise, then, that the word traces its ancestry back to the Greek word for "strife." "Eristic" and the variant "eristical" come from the Greek word "eristikos," meaning "fond of wrangling," from "erizein," "to wrangle," and ultimately from "eris," which means "strife." The adjective appeared in print in English in 1637. It was followed approximately 20 years later by the noun "eristic," which refers to either a person who is skilled at debates based on formal logic or to the art or practice of argument.

Test Your Memory: What is the meaning of "fimbriated," our Word of the Day from October 3? The answer is …

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