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

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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

But Zittrain, the Harvard law professor, devoted much of his talk to spurious correlations that AI has been known to surface. STAT, "What if AI in health care is the next asbestos?," 19 June 2019 The Danish researchers also took measures to ensure that the link between the gene and the disorder was not spurious. Karen Weintraub, Scientific American, "Gene Increases Risk for Pot Addiction," 17 June 2019 The simplest explanation, and the one the new papers argue for, is that the correlation was spurious in the first place. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "Medical marijuana vs. opioid abuse: New study questions the connection," 13 June 2019 But Berenson has to be pretty thrilled with the new findings, and especially with the possibility that the original correlation was spurious but the new one is not. Robert Verbruggen, National Review, "Legal Pot Won’t Control the Opioid Epidemic," 10 June 2019 But many in this semi-autonomous enclave believe an extradition arrangement will simply be used to round up dissidents and activists on spurious criminal charges, such is the mistrust of the mainland. Time Staff, Time, "Hong Kong's Embattled Leader Appeals for Calm in the Wake of Violent Anti-Government Protests," 2 July 2019 Public health advocates worry that some doctors are issuing bogus medical exemptions, allowing kindergartners to avoid inoculations for spurious reasons like asthma or skin conditions such as psoriasis. Rong-gong Lin Ii, latimes.com, "Measles-infected person travels through LAX airport on Memorial Day weekend," 7 June 2019 Banana has also been sequenced a lot and is well represented in the plant DNA database, which increases the chance of spurious matches. Quanta Magazine, "Ancient DNA Yields Snapshots of Vanished Ecosystems," 29 May 2019 But if that were the case, argues physicist James Pinfold, surely other spurious, and likely explainable, detections would have occurred over the years. Adam Hadhazy, Discover Magazine, "Scientists Hunt for A Seeming Paradox: A Magnet With Only One Pole," 13 Nov. 2018

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

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

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Last Updated

20 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for spurious

The first known use of spurious was in 1598

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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

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More from Merriam-Webster on spurious

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with spurious

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for spurious

Spanish Central: Translation of spurious

Nglish: Translation of spurious for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of spurious for Arabic Speakers

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to complain fretfully

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