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ad hominem

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adjective ad ho·mi·nem \(ˈ)ad-ˈhä-mə-ˌnem, -nəm\

Definition of ad hominem

  1. 1 :  appealing to feelings or prejudices rather than intellect <an ad hominem argument>

  2. 2 :  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>

Did You Know?

Ad hominem literally means "to the person" in New Latin (Latin as first used in post-medieval texts). In centuries past, this adjective usually modified "argument." An "argument ad hominem" (or "argumentum ad hominem," to use the full New Latin phrase) was a valid method of persuasion by which a person took advantage of his or her opponent's interests or feelings in a debate, instead of just sticking to general principles. The newer sense of "ad hominem," which suggests an attack on an opponent's character instead of his or her argument, appeared only in the last century, but it is the sense more often heard today. The word still refers to putting personal issues above other matters, but perhaps because of its old association with "argument," "ad hominem" has become, in effect, "against the person."

Origin and Etymology of ad hominem

New Latin, literally, to the person


First Known Use: 1598


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ad hominem

adverb ad ho·mi·nem

Definition of ad hominem

  1. :  in an ad hominem manner <was arguing ad hominem>

Origin and Etymology of ad hominem

see 1ad hominem


First Known Use: 1588

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