adjective spu·ri·ous \ ˈspyu̇r-ē-əs \
|Updated on: 20 Jul 2018

Definition of spurious

1 : of illegitimate birth : bastard
2 : outwardly similar or corresponding to something without having its genuine qualities : false
  • the spurious eminence of the pop celebrity
3 a : of falsified or erroneously attributed origin : forged
b : of a deceitful nature or quality
  • spurious excuses





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Examples of spurious in a Sentence

  1. 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 MantelNew York Review21 Sept. 2006
  2. 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 EarlyNew York Times Book Review30 Apr. 2000
  3. 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. SolowNew Republic12 Apr. 1999
  4. a spurious Picasso painting that wouldn't have fooled an art expert for a second

  5. claimed that the governor's election-year enthusiasm for conservation was spurious, since he had cut funding for state parks

Recent Examples of spurious from the Web

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.

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."

Origin and Etymology of spurious

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

SPURIOUS Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of spurious for English Language Learners

  • : not genuine, sincere, or authentic

  • : based on false ideas or bad reasoning

Medical Dictionary


adjective spu·ri·ous \ ˈspyu̇r-ē-əs \

medical Definition of spurious

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

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