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Ad hominem (usage)

The Latin loan phrase ad hominem, meaning, literally, to the person, is short for argumentatum ad hominem, a logical fallacy in which one ignores the merits of an opponent’s argument and instead attacks the opponent’s personality or character. Ad hominem would usually bear replacement with the English personal, but the phrase comes in handy in contexts relating to argumentation.

Because ad hominem has been in the language a long time, there’s no need to italicize it. And like other Latinisms, ad hominem needs no hyphen when used as a phrasal adjective.

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Examples

Even going ad hominem against Nick Clegg might not work, of course, but it has got to be a better bet than telling people that AV is “too complicated” or that the counting machines are “too expensive” … [Telegraph]

When discussing Jobs’ campaign against Adobe Flash, Lo dipped in an ad hominem attack. “What’s the reason for him to trash Flash? There’s no reason other than ego,” he said. [Register]

You don’t have to favor Bill’s approach to Egypt or anything else to realize an ad hominem attack without any intellectual argument is really not what conservatives should be all about. [Washington Post]

Ad hominem attacks, racial slurs, demeaning humor have no place in civilized discourse. [North Lake Tahoe Bonanza]

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Comments

  1. AnonymousGuest says:

    Is there a verb form for ad hominem?

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