reductio ad absurdum


re·​duc·​tio ad ab·​sur·​dum ri-ˈdək-tē-ˌō-ˌad-əb-ˈsər-dəm How to pronounce reductio ad absurdum (audio)
: disproof of a proposition by showing an absurdity to which it leads when carried to its logical conclusion
: the carrying of something to an absurd extreme

Examples of reductio ad absurdum in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The plot’s endless recursions are a reductio ad absurdum of the quest for authorial authenticity, particularly acute in the context of African literature. Julian Lucas, The New Yorker, 11 Sep. 2023 Easter Island is to a great extent a reductio ad absurdum of pre-modern man and gifted with a clement regime. Razib Khan, Discover Magazine, 29 Mar. 2010 The weakness of reductio ad absurdum arguments is that sometimes the opponent just accepts the absurd argument, too. Dominic Pino, National Review, 3 Mar. 2022 Ross provides a reductio ad absurdum for a quiet digital-age truth: A sprinkling of coveted intellectual property can allow a shrewd company to punch well above its weight. Washington Post, 30 July 2021 Some might see Trader Joe’s as the reductio ad absurdum of this movement’s political demands. Daniel Henninger, WSJ, 16 Dec. 2020 The reductio ad absurdum of monument revisionism is thus in sight. Stanley Kurtz, National Review, 17 Sep. 2020 The reductio ad absurdum of these scenes comes in a brief discussion between Woodward and Trump on racial justice, amid interviews that are ostensibly about the coronavirus. Isaac Chotiner, The New Yorker, 15 Sep. 2020 But believe it or not, this reductio ad absurdum has caused major drama at the Indigenous Music Awards in Winnipeg. The Editorial Board, WSJ, 12 Apr. 2019

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

Word History


Late Latin, literally, reduction to the absurd

First Known Use

1741, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of reductio ad absurdum was in 1741

Dictionary Entries Near reductio ad absurdum

Cite this Entry

“Reductio ad absurdum.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Apr. 2024.

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