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. 2006Of 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. 2000I 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
Recent Examples on the WebThe 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.