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 These arguments are spurious at best and are simply meant to distract from the greater issue (in fact, many current bus routes are already quite long). baltimoresun.com, "Letters: Readers sound off on Howard schools redistricting plan," 3 Dec. 2019 There’s no reason for fans, teams, or players to care about regular-season games rebranded as a spurious tournament with no real advantage for winning and no real stakes. BostonGlobe.com, "The in-season tournament idea is a flagrantly bad idea. Unlike NBA players, it simply doesn’t fly.," 1 Dec. 2019 Readers shouldn’t confound these points with distracting arguments based on spurious correlations or odd conjecture. WSJ, "Arriving at the Least Bad Marijuana Policy," 11 Jan. 2019 Equally important, there have been no breaches of patient privacy, nor have there been publications of spurious safety findings that received unwarranted attention or disrupted patient care. Joseph S. Ross, Joanne Waldstreicher, STAT, "Sharing clinical trial data: lessons from the YODA Project," 18 Nov. 2019 Return run: Despite all the checks and balances, if the consumer is still dissatisfied—with the delivery timeline, presence of spurious goods, or any other valid reason—the e-commerce site must accept the return of the goods, as per the draft rules. Ananya Bhattacharya, Quartz India, "India wants online retailers to take responsibility for fake reviews and counterfeits," 13 Nov. 2019 Until now, Trump and his defenders have succeeded in keeping all but a few Republicans unified behind defensive talking points: The charges are spurious. Los Angeles Times, "Column: How Pierre Delecto — sorry, Mitt Romney — is helping to save the republic," 23 Oct. 2019 Such spurious assertions certainly make women feel unwelcome in the sciences. Angela Saini, National Geographic, "Once, most famous scientists were men. But that’s changing.," 15 Oct. 2019 With Ukraine, Americans already have the smoking gun: a memo documenting Trump’s efforts to pressure Zelenskiy into investigating the Bidens on spurious grounds. Matt Ford, The New Republic, "Trump’s Defense Is Not Ready for Prime Time," 30 Sep. 2019

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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Time Traveler for spurious

Time Traveler

The first known use of spurious was in 1598

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Last Updated

7 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Spurious.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spuriousness. Accessed 9 December 2019.

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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

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