sophistry

noun
soph·​ist·​ry | \ ˈsä-fə-strē How to pronounce sophistry (audio) \
plural sophistries

Definition of sophistry

1 : subtly deceptive reasoning or argumentation

Keep scrolling for more

Sophistry Has Roots in Greek Philosophy

The original Sophists were ancient Greek teachers of rhetoric and philosophy prominent in the 5th century B.C. In their heyday, these philosophers were considered adroit in their reasoning, but later philosophers (particularly Plato) described them as sham philosophers, out for money and willing to say anything to win an argument. Thus sophist (which comes from Greek sophistēs, meaning "wise man" or "expert") earned a negative connotation as "a captious or fallacious reasoner." Sophistry is reasoning that seems plausible on a superficial level but is actually unsound, or reasoning that is used to deceive.

Examples of sophistry in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Like pretty much everything Hof says, the hard line between what is science and what is sophistry is slippery. Rachel Sugar, Bon Appétit, "I Tried the Wim Hof Method to Find Happiness Through Suffering," 28 Oct. 2019 No doubt the sophistries of elite Charlestonians, so thoroughly intertwined with the defense of Jim Crow, were becoming clear to Waring as well. Joseph Crespino, WSJ, "‘Unexampled Courage’ Review: Showing America the Way," 18 Jan. 2019 Some complain soccer is a chintzy distraction from the sophistry of our ruling classes. Sean Williams, The New Republic, "England’s World Cup Team: the Anti-Brexit," 10 July 2018 The guys, in the case of Joan, are formidable opponents: a king, an archbishop and a selection of the power elite of medieval France and England whose weapons are religion and sophistry. Toby Zinman, Philly.com, "What a Broadway weekend!: 'St. Joan' and 'My Fair Lady'!," 27 Apr. 2018 Giving up on the truth, then as now, means that we’re left with nothing but sophistry. Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, WSJ, "Truth Isn’t the Problem—We Are," 15 Mar. 2018 There is an option beyond budgetary sophistry, however. Rebecca M. Kysar, Slate Magazine, "The Tricks That Will Deliver Tax Reform," 1 June 2017

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

See More

First Known Use of sophistry

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about sophistry

Time Traveler for sophistry

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Listen to Our Podcast about sophistry

Statistics for sophistry

Last Updated

24 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Sophistry.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sophistry?show=0&t=1284357158. Accessed 9 December 2019.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for sophistry

sophistry

noun
How to pronounce sophistry (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of sophistry

formal
: the use of reasoning or arguments that sound correct but are actually false
: a reason or argument that sounds correct but is actually false

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on sophistry

What made you want to look up sophistry? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

contradictory or incongruous words

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Semantic Drift Quiz

  • a twisty river
  • Which of the following was once a synonym for fun?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!