spu·​ri·​ous | \ ˈspyu̇r-ē-əs How to pronounce spurious (audio) \

Definition of spurious

1 : born to parents not married to each other
2 : outwardly similar or corresponding to something without having its genuine qualities : false the spurious eminence of the pop celebrity
3a : of falsified or erroneously attributed origin : forged
b : of a deceitful nature or quality spurious excuses

Other Words from spurious

spuriously adverb
spuriousness noun

Did you know?

The classical Latin adjective spurius started out as a word meaning "illegitimate." In the days of ancient Rome, it was sometimes even used as a first name for illegitimate offspring (apparently with no dire effects). There was a certain Spurius Lucretius, for example, who was made temporary magistrate of Rome. In less tolerant times, 18th-century English writer Horace Walpole noted that Henry VII "came of the spurious stock of John of Gaunt." Today, we still use spurious to mean "illegitimate," but the more common meaning is "false" (a sense introduced to spurious in Late Latin). Originally our "false" sense emphasized improper origin, and it still often does ("a spurious signature"), but it can also simply mean "fake" or "not real."

Examples of spurious in a Sentence

One reiterated theme of his book is that the electoral process can be the most dangerous of delusions, tending to confer a spurious legitimacy on those most willing to corrupt it. — Hilary Mantel, New York Review, 21 Sept. 2006 Of all the potentially spurious phrases regularly found lurking on book jackets, none should be approached with greater wariness than "This is his first novel." — Tony Early, New York Times Book Review, 30 Apr. 2000 I have no special interest in defending modern finance theory, but I think it is important to get this straight, lest Soros's own ideas acquire spurious validity as a practical corrective to academic moonshine. — Robert M. Solow, New Republic, 12 Apr. 1999 a spurious Picasso painting that wouldn't have fooled an art expert for a second claimed that the governor's election-year enthusiasm for conservation was spurious, since he had cut funding for state parks
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Recent Examples on the Web The military has since silenced Suu Kyi, placing her under house arrest on spurious charges such as violating COVID-19 rules. David Pierson, Los Angeles Times, 14 Dec. 2021 When a spurious signal is detected in the satellite, the system should identify it as a potential attack. John Giordani, Forbes, 10 Dec. 2021 But none of that has stopped Trump from continuing to proclaim his spurious gospel of fraud. Los Angeles Times, 30 Nov. 2021 All the spurious arguments against EVs will filter away when your neighbor has a cheaper, better car than you. James Morris, Forbes, 15 May 2021 Trump, in trying to obstruct the investigation into January 6th—with spurious claims of executive privilege, for example—is fighting not only to impose his view of the past but to insure his political future. Amy Davidson Sorkin, The New Yorker, 31 Oct. 2021 Gunn does often go out of his way to debunk spurious rumors from questionable sources. Jacob Siegal, BGR, 11 Oct. 2021 Rogan for his spurious vaccine alternative claims, and, more recently, Chappelle for the controversy surrounding his Netflix special standup, The Closer. Andrew Paul, Rolling Stone, 29 Oct. 2021 Even a young Brett Kavanaugh thinks the Whitewater evidence is spurious. Amanda Whiting, Vulture, 5 Oct. 2021

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

circa 1567, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for spurious

Late Latin & Latin; Late Latin spurius false, from Latin, of illegitimate birth, from spurius, noun, bastard

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Time Traveler for spurious

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The first known use of spurious was circa 1567

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Dictionary Entries Near spurious



spurious claw

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Last Updated

11 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Spurious.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spurious. Accessed 21 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for spurious



English Language Learners Definition of spurious

: not genuine, sincere, or authentic
: based on false ideas or bad reasoning


spu·​ri·​ous | \ ˈspyu̇r-ē-əs How to pronounce spurious (audio) \

Medical Definition of spurious

: simulating a symptom or condition without being pathologically or morphologically genuine spurious labor pains spurious polycythemia

More from Merriam-Webster on spurious

Nglish: Translation of spurious for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of spurious for Arabic Speakers


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