specious

adjective
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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from specious

speciously adverb
speciousness noun

Did You Know?

Appearances can be deceptive. "Things are not always as they seem." Like these familiar proverbs, the word specious attests that English speakers can be a skeptical lot when it comes to trusting outward appearances. Specious traces to the Latin word speciosus, meaning "beautiful" or "plausible," and Middle English speakers used it to mean "visually pleasing." But by the 17th century, 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
See More
Recent Examples on the Web The garage has no connection with the events of Emmett Till’s murder but restoration was justified on the specious grounds that people may have sat on the porch discussing it (which is unlikely: locals ignored the story for decades). The Economist, "Memories of Emmett Till," 14 Nov. 2019 Cassetta says Brackenbury made specious claims about his team’s ability, insisting the real story is the Conservancy doesn’t want disabled people about the place. BostonGlobe.com, "the decision by the Conservancy that runs the Greenway to dump the cleaners from the Dorchester nonprofit," 15 Oct. 2019 With disdain and derision, Lewandowski mocked sitting members of Congress and smugly refused to answer questions, citing a specious claim of executive privilege. Rex Huppke, chicagotribune.com, "Column: Whistleblower silenced as Trump tweets on, Lewandowski needs some handcuffs: The Week in Review," 20 Sep. 2019 In the ensuing months, Giuliani appears to have functioned as a conduit for specious claims that made their way to Trump and right-wing media outlets. Author: Greg Miller, Greg Jaffe, Paul Sonne, Anchorage Daily News, "How a CIA analyst, alarmed by Trump’s shadow foreign policy, triggered an impeachment inquiry," 13 Apr. 2016 Making specious claims about a political opponent has a long and storied history in this country. Sue Halpern, The New Yorker, "The Problem of Political Advertising on Social Media," 24 Oct. 2019 When Politico or any other outlet whips up a fake scandal, the predictable next stage is that even more specious and disgusting things get said by pundits joining the pile-on. Kyle Smith, National Review, "Politico Doubles Down on Fake Turnberry Scandal," 13 Sep. 2019 Katharine Trendacosta, manager of policy and activism at EFF, suggested that the CASE Act would be similar to the DMCA’s takedown provision, creating a wave of specious copyright claims that are hard to resist or appeal. Makena Kelly, The Verge, "A new copyright proposal would protect designers online — but at what cost?," 23 July 2019 Imamoglu served as mayor for 18 days before the recount was ordered, based on allegations of fraud by the ruling party that many independent observers have deemed specious. Laura King, latimes.com, "Repeat election for Istanbul mayor is a key test for Turkey’s authoritarian-minded president," 22 June 2019

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about specious

Time Traveler for specious

Time Traveler

The first known use of specious was in 1513

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast about specious

Statistics for specious

Last Updated

1 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Specious.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/specious. Accessed 6 December 2019.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for specious

specious

adjective
How to pronounce specious (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of specious

formal : falsely appearing to be fair, just, or right : appearing to be true but actually false

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on specious

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

WORD OF THE DAY

very cautious or careful

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
Citation

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!