special pleading


Definition of special pleading

1 : 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
2 : 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 And the other almost entirely on feelings, personal preferences, and special pleading. Dan Mclaughlin, National Review, "Bulverism at The Bulwark," 18 Aug. 2020 If special pleading for the late period is the book’s one real weakness, its great strength is its tone. Joan Acocella, The New Yorker, "Untangling Andy Warhol," 1 June 2020 This is an outstanding example of special pleading on behalf of the wealthy. Michael Hiltzik, latimes.com, "Steve Mnuchin finally finds a respectful audience in Southern California," 30 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'special pleading.' 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 special pleading

1684, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about special pleading

Time Traveler for special pleading

Time Traveler

The first known use of special pleading was in 1684

See more words from the same year

Statistics for special pleading

Cite this Entry

“Special pleading.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/special%20pleading. Accessed 15 Jan. 2021.

Comments on special pleading

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


Test Your Vocabulary

Words of Snow and Ice Quiz

  • image1037863653
  • Which of the following refers to thin, bending ice, or to the act of running over such ice?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.


Anagram puzzles meet word search.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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