ad hominem

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Related to Ad personam: hominem, Argumentum ad personam

ad hom·i·nem

 (hŏm′ə-nĕm′, -nəm)
adj.
1. Attacking a person's character or motivations rather than a position or argument: The candidates agreed to focus on the issues rather than making ad hominem attacks against each other.
2. Appealing to the emotions rather than to logic or reason.

[Latin : ad, to + hominem, accusative of homō, person.]

ad hom′i·nem′ adv.
Usage Note: Those readers who have studied Latin will know that the preposition ad means "to" or "toward" and that the hominem of ad hominem is an inflected form of the noun homo ("person"), making the literal meaning of the phrase "toward the person." But toward which person? Though ad hominem is usually used nowadays to describe a personal attack, the homo of ad hominem was originally the audience to whom an argument was addressed, not the opponent at whom a personal attack is directed. The phrase denoted an argument designed to appeal to the listener's emotions rather than to reason, as in the sentence That candidate's evocation of pity for the small farmer struggling to maintain his property is a purely ad hominem argument for reducing inheritance taxes. This usage had already begun to wane by the 1990s: in our 1997 survey, only 37 percent of the Usage Panel found this sentence acceptable, and in our 2013 survey, only 34 percent did. The phrase is now chiefly used to describe an argument based on the personal traits of an adversary rather than on the merits of the case: Ad hominem attacks on one's opponent are a tried-and-true strategy for people who have a case that is weak. This sentence was acceptable to 90 percent of the Panel in 1997 and 98 percent in 2013. The expression also has a looser use in referring to any personal attack, whether or not it is part of an argument, as in It isn't in the best interests of the nation for the press to attack him in this personal, ad hominem way. This use was acceptable to 65 percent of the Panel in 1997 and to 72 percent in 2013.

ad hominem

(æd ˈhɒmɪˌnɛm)
adj, adv
1. directed against a person rather than against his arguments
2. based on or appealing to emotion rather than reason
[literally: to the man]

ad ho•mi•nem

(æd ˈhɒm ə nəm, -ˌnɛm)
adj.
1. appealing to one's prejudice, emotions, or special interests rather than to one's reason.
2. attacking an opponent's character rather than answering an argument.
adv.
3. in an ad hominem manner.
[< Latin: literally, to the man]

ad hominem

A Latin phrase meaning to the man, often used to describe attacks made on an opponent’s character as opposed to his arguments.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Adj.1.ad hominem - appealing to personal considerations (rather than to fact or reason); "ad hominem arguments"
personal - concerning or affecting a particular person or his or her private life and personality; "a personal favor"; "for your personal use"; "personal papers"; "I have something personal to tell you"; "a personal God"; "he has his personal bank account and she has hers"
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