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

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 When asked this week about the importance of winning in a fashion that will impress the selection committee, Ohio State coach Urban Meyer responded with a non sequitur about Northwestern’s punt rush. Brian Costa, WSJ, "On College Football’s Championship Weekend: Win and You’re In (Maybe)," 30 Nov. 2018 The easygoing comic actor snags laughs by his lonesome, simply by providing deadpan reactions and blithe non sequiturs while others strain for effect. Michael Phillips,, "'Tag' review: Don't these guys have anything else to do?," 14 June 2018 His music, even since Pavement melted into entropy in 1999, has been jarring and opaque, defined by lyrics that circle around homonyms and puns, or break from generational observations into non sequiturs. Rob Tannenbaum, New York Times, "Stephen Malkmus Doesn’t Think He Was a Jerk," 14 May 2018 Because like most iconic film lines — especially of the non sequitur variety — the joy is not so much in rewatching as reciting. Jess Bergman, The Cut, "I Think About This a Lot: Robert De Niro Yelling ‘You Blew It!’ in Cop Land," 30 Apr. 2018 Rather, Fox News has often used Clinton as a non sequitur. Alvin Chang, Vox, "Nearly two years into the Trump presidency, Fox News is still obsessed with Hillary Clinton," 11 July 2018 The directors play the scene as a non sequitur joke, and as a result, the ending comes off as anticlimactic. Ben Sachs, Chicago Reader, "Chicago Underground Film Festival: The Story of a Satellite," 6 June 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

12 Mar 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 affect and impair by alcohol or a drug

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