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

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
3a : of falsified or erroneously attributed origin : forged
b : of a deceitful nature or quality spurious excuses

Keep scrolling for more

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
See More
Recent Examples on the Web Now, Pence is ending his tenure with an even bigger test of whether to support Trump’s spurious election claims. Maureen Groppe, USA TODAY, "Mike Pence faces biggest loyalty test in announcing Trump's loss during a special session of Congress," 6 Jan. 2021 In the 60 state and federal court cases that have been decided so far, judges in 59 of them—many of them appointed by Republicans, and some by President Trump himself—have rejected an unending chain of spurious claims of election fraud. Clifton Leaf, Fortune, "20 Things That Went Strangely, Wonderfully Right in 2020," 31 Dec. 2020 Its apparent benefit to COVID-19 patients could simply be a spurious correlation—or, perhaps, a signal alerting us to something else that is actually improving people’s outcomes. James Hamblin, The Atlantic, "The Curious Influence of COVID-19 on Sleep," 21 Dec. 2020 Reporters have been harassed, silenced with spurious criminal cases and in some instances killed. New York Times, "India’s Leading Documentary Filmmaker Has a Warning," 1 Dec. 2020 There were baseless rumors about Mr. Biden’s health, unfounded questions about the citizenship of Ms. Harris and spurious claims about the business dealings of Mr. Biden’s son Hunter. Kevin Roose, New York Times, "How Joe Biden’s Digital Team Tamed the MAGA Internet," 6 Dec. 2020 Other, more spurious claims — about the nature of cats themselves — may give readers pause. Washington Post, "We’ve been looking to philosophers to make sense of life. Maybe we should be looking at cats instead.," 24 Nov. 2020 Those who persevere are harassed by the police or charged with spurious crimes. New York Times, "They Championed Venezuela’s Revolution. They Are Now Its Latest Victims.," 19 Nov. 2020 But littering this road to unfreedom are a series of less dramatic, though no less significant, developments: slogans outlawed, songs censored, teachers fired, books removed, and spurious arrests on farcical charges. Mary Hui, Quartz, "This is what the dismantling of a democracy looks like," 14 Nov. 2020

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.

See More

First Known Use of spurious

1598, 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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about spurious

Time Traveler for spurious

Time Traveler

The first known use of spurious was in 1598

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast about spurious

Statistics for spurious

Last Updated

11 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Spurious.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spurious. Accessed 18 Jan. 2021.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for spurious


How to pronounce spurious (audio)

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on spurious

What made you want to look up spurious? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

Words of Snow and Ice Quiz

  • image1037863653
  • Which of the following refers to thin, bending ice, or to the act of running over such ice?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.


Anagram puzzles meet word search.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!