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From Latin speciōsus (good-looking).


  • (UK, US) IPA(key): /ˈspiːʃəs/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -iːʃəs


specious (comparative more specious, superlative most specious)

  1. Seemingly well-reasoned, plausible or true, but actually fallacious.
    Synonyms: fallacious, insincere
    This idea that we must see through what we have started is specious, however good it may sound.
    • 1649, J[ohn] Milton, ΕΙΚΟΝΟΚΛΆΣΤΗΣ [EIKONOKLASTES] [], London: [] Matthew Simmons, [], OCLC 1044608640:
      now to the discourse itself, voluble enough, and full of sentence, but that, for the most part, either specious rather than solid, or to his cause nothing pertinent.
    • 1776, Thomas Paine, Common Sense:
      I have frequently amused myself both in public and private companies, with silently remarking, the specious errors of those who speak without reflecting.
    • 1986, John le Carré, A Perfect Spy:
      “Number two is that for reasons which I regarded at the time as specious and insulting, the Americans objected to your husband's presence on that committee not three weeks after it met, and asked me to replace him with somebody more to their liking. Since Magnus was kingpin of the Czecho operation and of several other little shows in Eastern Europe besides, this was a totally unrealistic demand."
  2. Employing fallacious but deceptively plausible arguments; deceitful.
    • 1727, [John] Gay, “Fable I. The Lyon, the Tyger, and the Traveller.”, in Fables, volume I, 2nd edition, London: [] J[acob] Tonson and J. Watts, published 1728, OCLC 1204997009, page 1:
      With early virtues plant your breaſt, / The ſpecious arts of vice deteſt.
    • 1829, William Phelan, Mortimer O'Sullivan, Ireland: A digest taken before Select Committees of the two Houses of Parliament, appointed to inquire into the State of Ireland, 1824—25, in The Christian Review and Clerical Magazine, Volume III, page 472,
      But a third cause of the delusion is, that the Church of Rome has become more specious and deceitful than before the Reformation.
  3. Having an attractive appearance intended to generate a favorable response; deceptively attractive.
    Synonyms: meretricious, pretextual
    • 1760, William Warburton, The Lord Bishop of Gloucester's Sermon Preached Before the Right Honourable the House of Lords, January 30, 1760, page 19,
      And could any thing be more ſpecious, or more equal, than that fair diſtribution of power and profit, which men called the NEW MODEL?
    • 1776 Edward Gibbon, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Vol I, ch 1—pt i:
      [T]he success of Trajan, however transient, was rapid and specious. The degenerate Parthians, broken by intestine discord, fled before his arms.
    • 1788, Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 59
      This argument, though specious, will not, upon examination, be found solid.
  4. (obsolete) Beautiful, pleasing to look at.

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