special pleading


: the allegation of special or new matter to offset the effect of matter pleaded by the opposite side and admitted, as distinguished from a direct denial of the matter pleaded
: misleading argument that presents one point or phase as if it covered the entire question at issue

Examples of special pleading in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web This column seems like a shallow exercise in special pleading. Yuval Levin, National Review, 6 Nov. 2023 British director Steve McQueen, working from a screenplay by John Ridley, has no intention of making audiences the slightest bit comfortable with this terrible story, no interest in putting in any special pleading to bend our hearts. Los Angeles Times, 25 Jan. 2023 The movie weaves a precarious case of special pleading for its main character while reassuring us that the dead kid really didn’t have much of a personality to begin with—until, miraculously, minutes from the end, we’re graced with the revelation that Connor, too, was a real human being. Stephanie Zacharek, Time, 24 Sep. 2021 At the time, Applegate, an actress with an aversion to special pleading, didn’t make excuses. Alexis Soloski, New York Times, 1 Nov. 2022 Barnes captures the language of adoration with exquisite poise, the devoted student’s endless cycle of qualifications and special pleading. Ron Charles, Washington Post, 9 Aug. 2022 The connections can be stretched only so far, however, and when the industry is sued, a common occurrence, its special pleading doesn’t play as well in courtrooms, where facts, reason, and fairness are all that matter. Matthew Scully, National Review, 11 July 2022 Like that earlier piece, Bowles employs exaggeration and special pleading to make her case. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, 14 June 2022 Ultimately, Kirk is engaged in nothing more noble than good old-fashioned special pleading. Charles C. W. Cooke, National Review, 25 Feb. 2022 See More

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

Word History

First Known Use

1684, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of special pleading was in 1684

Dictionary Entries Near special pleading

Cite this Entry

“Special pleading.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/special%20pleading. Accessed 3 Dec. 2023.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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