Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search



Latin elenchus, from Ancient Greek to convict, confute, prove: compare Old French elenche.



elench (plural elenchs)

  1. (logic) That part of an argument on which its conclusiveness depends; that which convinces or refutes an antagonist; a refutation.
    • 1599, Thomas Blundeville, The Art of Logicke, London: Matthew Lownes, 1619, Book 6, Chapter 2, p. 186,[1]
      Reprehension or Elench [] is a Syllogisme, which gathereth a conclusion contrary to the assertion of the respondent, as if a man would defend Medea not to love her childe, because she killed it, another might reason against him in this manner: every Mother loveth her child: but Medea is a Mother: Ergo, Medea loveth her child: the Conclusion of this Syllogisme is contrarie to the first Assertion []
  2. (obsolete) A specious argument; a sophism.
    • 1644, John Milton, Areopagitica, p. 40,[2]
      But of these Sophisms and Elenchs of marchandize I skill not []
    • 1646, Thomas Browne, Pseudodoxia Epidemica, London: Edw. Dod & Nath. Ekins, 1650, Book I, Chapter 4, p. 10,[3]
      This fallacy in the first delusion Satan put upon Eve, and his whole tentation might be the same Elench continued; so when he said, Ye shall not die, that was in his equivocation, ye shall not incurre a present death, or a destruction immediatly ensuing your transgression.

Part or all of this entry has been imported from the 1913 edition of Webster’s Dictionary, which is now free of copyright and hence in the public domain. The imported definitions may be significantly out of date, and any more recent senses may be completely missing.
(See the entry for elench in
Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913.)