spe·​cious | \ ˈspē-shəs How to pronounce specious (audio) \

Definition of specious

1 : having a false look of truth or genuineness : sophistic specious reasoning
2 : having deceptive attraction or allure
3 obsolete : showy

Other Words from specious

speciously adverb
speciousness noun

Did you know?

Specious comes from Latin speciosus, meaning "beautiful" or "plausible," and Middle English speakers used it to mean "visually pleasing." In time, specious had begun to suggest an attractiveness that was superficial or deceptive, and, subsequently, the word's neutral "pleasing" sense faded into obsolescence.

Examples of specious in a Sentence

Forty years ago I was not yet thirty, and my father still held to the hope that I would come to my senses, abandon the practice of journalism, and follow a career in one of the Wall Street money trades. As a young man during the Great Depression he had labored briefly as a city-room reporter for William Randolph Hearst's San Francisco Examiner, and he knew that the game was poorly paid and usually rigged, more often than not a matter of converting specious rumor into dubious fact. — Lewis H. Lapham, Harper's, February 2004 By and large, they made these changes with specious explanations or no explanation at all. Today, when curricula list rhetoric as a subject, it usually means simply the study of how to write effectively. — Walter J. Ong, Orality and Literacy, (1982) 2002 One must always guard the interests of one's constituency in the public forum even when its claims are weak or perhaps specious, lest one's opponents steal the march in the never-ending battle for resources or public support. — Robert Jackall et al., Image Makers, 2000 He justified his actions with specious reasoning. a specious argument that really does not stand up under close examination
Recent Examples on the Web What would be the monetization for their specious activities? Lance Eliot, Forbes, 10 July 2022 However different the particulars are from the current American show trial, The Confession still goes to the heart of specious judicial behavior — and the nightmare of a country and its media accepting it as normal. Armond White, National Review, 15 June 2022 But how the studies arrive at these error rates is dubious and without anti-expert experts to explain why these studies are flawed, courts and juries can and have been bamboozled into accepting specious claims. David L. Faigman, Nicholas Scurich, Scientific American, 25 May 2022 Trump had demanded audits and trumpeted specious findings as evidence of voter fraud. David Jackson, USA TODAY, 19 May 2022 Because Lamar has his heart set on pleasing sociologists and pundits (the kind who mention his Pulitzer Prize as bona fides rather than a jinx), The Heart trades sincerity for specious authenticity. Armond White, National Review, 11 May 2022 That argument is specious at best, though there’s nothing wrong with the show allowing a fictionalized Betty to impart her belief. The New Yorker, 2 May 2022 House and Senate map drawers defended their maps as constitutional and insisted the governor was leading lawmakers toward a court fight with specious legal footing. Steve Contorno, CNN, 11 Apr. 2022 The hospital has rejected some requests that relied on specious religious reasoning. Compiled Democrat-gazette Staff From Wire Reports, Arkansas Online, 15 Feb. 2022 See More

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

First Known Use of specious

1513, in the meaning defined at sense 3

History and Etymology for specious

Middle English, visually pleasing, from Latin speciosus beautiful, plausible, from species

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The first known use of specious was in 1513

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Dictionary Entries Near specious



specious present

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Last Updated

16 Jul 2022

Cite this Entry

“Specious.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/specious. Accessed 8 Aug. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on specious

Nglish: Translation of specious for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of specious for Arabic Speakers


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