Captious Definition

Made only for the sake of argument or faultfinding.
Captious criticism.
Webster's New World
Fond of catching others in mistakes; quick to find fault; quibbling; carping.
Webster's New World
Intended to entrap or confuse, as in an argument.
A captious question.
American Heritage
1784, William Cowper, "A Review of Schools", in Poems, 1859 ed., page 219.
A captious question, sir, and yours is one, / Deserves an answer similar, or none.
1815 March 24, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, “To William Lisle Bowles”, in Collected Letters of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, edition 2000 Oxford ed., ISBN 0198187459, page 558.
Were you aware that in your discourse last Sunday you attributed the captious Problem of the Sadducees to the Pharisees, as a proof of the obscure and sensual doctrines of the latter?

Origin of Captious

  • Middle English capcious from Old French captieux from Latin captiōsus from captiō seizure, sophism from captus past participle of capere to seize kap- in Indo-European roots

    From American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition

  • Middle English capcious, from Middle French captieux, or its source, Latin captiōsus, from captiōnem.

    From Wiktionary


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