non sequitur

non se·​qui·​tur | \ ˌnän-ˈse-kwə-tər also -ˌtu̇r How to pronounce non sequitur (audio) \

Definition of non sequitur

1 : an inference (see inference sense 2) that does not follow from the premises (see premise entry 1 sense 1) specifically : a fallacy resulting from a simple conversion of a universal affirmative (see affirmative entry 1 sense 3) proposition or from the transposition of a condition and its consequent (see consequent entry 1 sense 1)
2 : a statement (such as a response) that does not follow logically from or is not clearly related to anything previously said We were talking about the new restaurant when she threw in some non sequitur about her dog.

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Did You Know?

In Latin, non sequitur means "it does not follow." The phrase was borrowed into English in the 1500s by people who made a formal study of logic. For them it meant a conclusion that does not follow from the statements that lead to it. But we now use non sequitur for any kind of statement that seems to come out of the blue. The Latin verb sequi ("to follow") has actually led the way for a number of English words. A sequel follows the original novel, film, or television show. Someone obsequious follows another about, flattering and fawning. And an action is often followed by its consequence.

Examples of non sequitur in a Sentence

We were talking about the new restaurant when she threw in some non sequitur about her dog.

Recent Examples on the Web

But after becoming governor, Newsom proposed legislation to withhold gas tax funds from cities that weren’t doing enough to spur home building — a non sequitur. Los Angeles Times, "With California’s vaccine bill, children’s immunizations and Newsom’s word are at stake," 5 Sep. 2019 The comment that triggered misconduct proceedings was almost a non sequitur, Mossman said. Megan Cassidy,, "Ghost Ship trial: Inside the turbulent jury deliberations that led to dismissals, acquittal, deadlock," 11 Sep. 2019 Zhang often frustrates Altman by ignoring his questions or answering with non sequiturs. Washington Post, "Chinese woman accused of Mar-a-Lago trespass set for trial," 7 Sep. 2019 The big kahuna obviously is Walton, a walking, talking eccentric who specializes in throwing out a non sequitur or two during the heat of a game. Paul Sullivan,, "Jason Benetti isn’t sure what Bill Walton will bring to the White Sox telecast, but ‘I’m not going to have the media-room brownies’," 14 Aug. 2019 Heading into the second Democratic debate tonight, many are hoping for more climate talk and fewer non sequiturs. Heather Souvaine Horn, The New Republic, "Isn’t it time for NBC to get a less peppy debate tune?," 28 June 2019 Posts are frequently incoherent or contain non sequiturs, and the bots make obvious factual errors. James Vincent, The Verge, "There’s a subreddit populated entirely by AI personifications of other subreddits," 6 June 2019 Their humor gets its slapstick from the Three Stooges, its non sequitur verbal mojo from the less-cerebral routines of the Firesign Theater, with a dash of Monty Python tossed in. Glenn Kenny, New York Times, "Review: ‘Super Troopers 2’: The Broken Lizard Boys Are Back," 19 Apr. 2018 The false equivalence of the mistreatment of three nominees by the Democrats to the lack of hearings for Merrick Garland is clever, as all non sequiturs are. WSJ, "Steadier Politics Require Congress Do Its Job," 4 Oct. 2018

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

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First Known Use of non sequitur

1540, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for non sequitur

Latin, it does not follow

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Last Updated

8 Oct 2019

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The first known use of non sequitur was in 1540

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More Definitions for non sequitur

non sequitur


English Language Learners Definition of non sequitur

: a statement that is not connected in a logical or clear way to anything said before it

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to fake an opponent out of position

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