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

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
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Recent Examples on the Web Lincoln’s opponents dismissed it as specious and naive. The Economist, "Immortal words The tragic genius of Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural," 27 Feb. 2020 To argue there is no connection to the historic issue is specious and silly. Victoria Kim, Los Angeles Times, "Japan uses trade restrictions as a weapon against South Korea," 21 July 2019 With the fashion industry estimated to be responsible for , climate concern is no longer confined to waifish hippies ( and specious weight loss claims notwithstanding). Alden Wicker, Harper's BAZAAR, "Can Sustainable Fashion and Inclusive Sizing Coexist?," 30 Apr. 2020 The most powerful of these seemingly self-evident yet specious metaphors may arise from the leakage of our physical organization into our conceptual categories. Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker, "Did Lincoln Really Matter?," 3 Feb. 2020 But that hasn’t stopped people from making specious claims. Tara Parker-pope, New York Times, "Can I Boost My Immune System?," 10 Mar. 2020 Privatization seems to be a preoccupation among progressives, based on the specious claim that somehow, private prisons caused mass incarceration — a view pretty much demolished by law professor John Pfaff. Barry Latzer, National Review, "Democrats Prefer ‘Reforming’ the Criminal-Justice System to Punishing Criminals," 17 Feb. 2020 Damage Amount Requested: $17,228.90 Settlement Amount: $14,000.00 Broker Comment: The unsupported allegations are a specious attempt of a customer to recover losses from a purchase that declined in price. Gwynn Guilford, Quartz, "Wall Street’s watchdog is obscuring data that could protect investors," 3 Mar. 2020 The president’s team could also have focused their energy on another key point that has gotten no attention: The claim that a Ukrainian investigation of the Bidens would have materially hurt Biden’s presidential campaign is specious. Andrew C. Mccarthy, National Review, "Bolton Blows Up Trump Team’s Foolhardy Quid Pro Quo Defense," 27 Jan. 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

1 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Specious.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/specious. Accessed 2 Jul. 2020.

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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

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