cap·​tious | \ ˈkap-shəs How to pronounce captious (audio) \

Definition of captious

1 : marked by an often ill-natured inclination to stress faults and raise objections captious critics a captious rivalry
2 : calculated to confuse, entrap, or entangle in argument a captious question

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Other Words from captious

captiously adverb
captiousness noun

Choose the Right Synonym for 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

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.

Examples of captious in a Sentence

a captious and cranky eater who's never met a vegetable he didn't hate
Recent Examples on the Web Berryman was a captious and self-heating complainer, slow to cool. Anthony Lane, The New Yorker, 12 Oct. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'captious.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of captious

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for 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 entry 1

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The first known use of captious was in the 14th century

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Cite this Entry

“Captious.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 Jun. 2021.

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More from Merriam-Webster on captious

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for captious

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