ad hominem

1 of 2


ad ho·​mi·​nem (ˈ)ad-ˈhä-mə-ˌnem How to pronounce ad hominem (audio)
: appealing to feelings or prejudices rather than intellect
an ad hominem argument
: marked by or being an attack on an opponent's character rather than by an answer to the contentions made
made an ad hominem personal attack on his rival

ad hominem

2 of 2


: in an ad hominem manner
was arguing ad hominem

Did you know?

Ad hominem literally means “to the person” in New Latin (Latin as used since the end of the medieval period). In centuries past, the term was used in the phrase “argument ad hominem” (or argumentum ad hominem, to use the full New Latin phrase) to refer to a method of persuasion in which one introduces issues that relate personally to one’s opponent, such as the opponent’s habits, practices, or circumstances, instead of just sticking to principles or facts. What exactly came into play in such persuasions eventually expanded, and ad hominem came to describe an attack aimed at an opponent’s character rather than their ideas. The hostile nature of such attacks has led to an understanding of the term as meaning “against the person,” rather than its original Latin meaning of “to the person.”

Examples of ad hominem in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
Viewpoints that are hated by some or a majority should be addressed on their merits, rather than their speakers murdered by ad hominem attacks. Armstrong Williams, Baltimore Sun, 3 Mar. 2024 These ad hominem attacks were essentially irrelevant to the awards, snuck in only for the sake of a lazy gag. Fran Hoepfner, The Atlantic, 10 Mar. 2024 In some of the videos, staffers retaliate by launching ad hominem attacks at Gude or the other protesters. Ej Dickson, Rolling Stone, 10 Jan. 2024 Musk, on the other hand, appears to have little concern about issuing ad hominem attacks. Jane Thier, Fortune, 9 Dec. 2023 This wasn’t ad hominem or propagandistic hyperbole. Noah Rothman, National Review, 10 Nov. 2023 Spears writes of these unrighteous men matter-of-factly, avoiding the ad hominem attack, except for an occasional delicious arrow, including a recollection of the eternally white Timberlake meeting one of his rap heroes. Stephen Rodrick, Variety, 24 Oct. 2023 Solomon himself has taken a series of ad hominem attacks and criticism on the chin for his leadership style, management practice, and CEO performance. Byjane Thier, Fortune, 17 Oct. 2023 Though Twitter was never a bastion of admirable civic discourse during the Trump years, at least it was regularly filled with sharp arguments; now that it’s run by a man who revels in ad hominem attacks (and attention), the chatter on the app is just a lot dumber. Clare Malone, The New Yorker, 13 June 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'ad hominem.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



borrowed from New Latin, literally, "to the person"


derivative of ad hominem entry 1

First Known Use


1598, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1588, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of ad hominem was in 1588


Dictionary Entries Near ad hominem

Cite this Entry

“Ad hominem.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Jun. 2024.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!