syllogism

noun
syl·​lo·​gism | \ˈsi-lə-ˌji-zəm \

Definition of syllogism 

1 : a deductive scheme of a formal argument consisting of a major and a minor premise and a conclusion (as in "every virtue is laudable; kindness is a virtue; therefore kindness is laudable")

2 : a subtle, specious, or crafty argument

3 : deductive reasoning

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Other Words from syllogism

syllogistic \ ˌsi-​lə-​ˈji-​stik \ adjective
syllogistically \ ˌsi-​lə-​ˈji-​sti-​k(ə-​)lē \ adverb

Did You Know?

For those trained in formal argument, the syllogism is a classical form of deduction. One example is the inference that "kindness is praiseworthy" from the premises "every virtue is praiseworthy" and "kindness is a virtue." "Syllogism" came to English through Anglo-French from Latin syllogismus, which in turn can be traced back through Greek to the verb syllogizesthai, meaning "to infer." In Greek logizesthai means "to calculate" and derives from logos, meaning "word" or "reckoning." "Syl-" comes from syn-, meaning "with" or "together."

Examples of syllogism in a Sentence

An example of a syllogism is: “All men are human; all humans are mortal; therefore all men are mortal.”

Recent Examples on the Web

But the motion, that extraordinary charisma communicated not through image or syllogism but through rhythm alone, remains as permanent as a fingerprint. Thomas Chatterton Williams, New York Times, "Adrian Piper’s Show at MoMA is the Largest Ever for a Living Artist. Why Hasn’t She Seen It?," 27 June 2018 Shapiro tries to appeal to both the pro-Trump and the anti-Trump factions of the Republican base, spitting out indignant syllogisms in a rapid nasal delivery that sounds like a podcast played at double speed. Andrew Marantz, The New Yorker, "How Social-Media Trolls Turned U.C. Berkeley Into a Free-Speech Circus," 23 May 2016 The Holocaust was the result of a hideous syllogism: if Germany were to expand into the East, where millions of Jews lived, those Jews would have to vanish, because Germans could not coexist with them. Naomi Fry, The New Yorker, "How American Racism Influenced Hitler," 23 Apr. 2018 That bassline -- quietly funky, resolving like a syllogism -- served as the bedrock for dozens of hip-hop, R&B, and pop tracks in the decades to follow, some of which have become just as iconic as their source. Brad Shoup, Billboard, "A History of Dennis Edwards' 'Don't Look Any Further' Through the Countless Songs That Borrow From It," 8 Feb. 2018 Both arguments are specious, based on a clumsy syllogism. Josephine Livingstone, New Republic, "Losing the Twentieth Century," 8 Feb. 2018 The syllogism is simple: Trump is a racist; only racists support a racist; Americans who support Trump are racists. Ben Shapiro, National Review, "What’s the Point of Labeling Trump a Racist?," 17 Jan. 2018 And Republicans in leadership, who appear to have fallen prey to the old political syllogism: Something must be done. Megan Mcardle, The Denver Post, "The Republican plan is even worse than Obamacare," 11 Mar. 2017 Which, of course, suggests an awkward syllogism: The more alive a species is, the shorter its life. Fortune, "Brainstorm Health Daily: July 27, 2017," 27 July 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'syllogism.' 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 syllogism

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for syllogism

Middle English silogisme, from Anglo-French sillogisme, from Latin syllogismus, from Greek syllogismos, from syllogizesthai to syllogize, from syn- + logizesthai to calculate, from logos reckoning, word — more at legend

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The first known use of syllogism was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for syllogism

syllogism

noun

English Language Learners Definition of syllogism

: a formal argument in logic that is formed by two statements and a conclusion which must be true if the two statements are true

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More from Merriam-Webster on syllogism

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Britannica English: Translation of syllogism for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about syllogism

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