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

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Other Words from specious

speciously adverb
speciousness noun

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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
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Recent Examples on the Web Chief of Staff Mark Meadows urged the department to investigate specious claims of voter fraud and authorities obtained the data and communications records of reporters and House Democrats. Michael D'antonio, CNN, 12 June 2021 This is a Pandora's Box, brought forth by political inquisitors, that must not be opened unless adequate scientific proof of these specious allegations comes to light. Ethan Siegel, Forbes, 3 June 2021 The worst offender may be CNN’s Brian Stelter, who, when interviewing the AP’s Sally Buzbee, repeated specious stories about AP journalists ignoring Hamas activity. Jacob Silverman, The New Republic, 17 May 2021 So the idea that all of a sudden the introduction of slow downloads entirely cratered an industry is to me specious. The Politics Of Everything, The New Republic, 27 May 2021 As ought to be well known by now, claims of mass voter fraud are specious always and everywhere. Osita Nwanevu, The New Republic, 13 May 2021 My own search resulted in a gallery of kitsch fabric styles, moribund web pages from African design institutions like the African Design Centre and MOADJHB, and specious pontifications from non-Africans. Nafeesah Allen, House Beautiful, 13 May 2021 His government is even working on an extradition treaty with Beijing that could mean the deportation of Uyghurs on expansive and specious grounds. Melissa Chan, The Atlantic, 8 Apr. 2021 While many Republican lawmakers privately admit that the president lost and understand the fraud allegations and lawsuits have no merit, polls indicate many Trump voters are accepting the campaign’s specious arguments. Washington Post, 13 Dec. 2020

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.

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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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Time Traveler for specious

Time Traveler

The first known use of specious was in 1513

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Last Updated

22 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Specious.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/specious. Accessed 22 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for specious



English Language Learners Definition of specious

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


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