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

Definition of spurious

1 : born to parents not married to each other
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

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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 Even a young Brett Kavanaugh thinks the Whitewater evidence is spurious. Amanda Whiting, Vulture, 5 Oct. 2021 There may be a relationship between an unusual event and a threat, but the relationship may be spurious. Saryu Nayyar, Forbes, 1 Oct. 2021 Rather than spurious finger-pointing, Banned Books Week should be a moment to bridge political divides in support of freedom of expression, a principle and value that transcends politics. WSJ, 23 Sep. 2021 My issue isn't with CRT, which is a movement that emerged in the 1970s to challenge the spurious notion that the law is impartial. Brandon Tensley, CNN, 2 Sep. 2021 In the middle of a pandemic, health officials have some responsibility to counter the many spurious voices on Twitter and Facebook spreading everything from pseudoscience to lies. New York Times, 22 Aug. 2021 Although sentiments in the United States about marijuana have shifted considerably, and the idea of THC being performance-enhancing for her particular discipline is spurious at best, the drug is clearly banned during competition. Matt Hart, The Atlantic, 30 July 2021 Fisher said the claim was spurious and noted that Drescher had conducted high-profile media interviews. Anousha Sakoui, Los Angeles Times, 2 Sep. 2021 Nevertheless, this moral panic took hold, which opened the door for bad-faith actors like Dr. Andrew Wakefield and former model Jenny McCarthy to play to people’s fears about vaccines based on spurious claims. Eric Garcia, Time, 27 Aug. 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.

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First Known Use of spurious

circa 1567, 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

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The first known use of spurious was circa 1567

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spurious claw

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Last Updated

14 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Spurious.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spurious. Accessed 28 Oct. 2021.

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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

More from Merriam-Webster on spurious

Nglish: Translation of spurious for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of spurious for Arabic Speakers


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