Appeal to the Dictionary

Other Names

Appeal to Definition


When a debate hinges on the subtle interpretation of certain words, and you try to improve your position in the debate by insisting that only the dictionary definition of the word is acceptable.

Dictionary definitions are often simplified and based on the popular understanding of a word, when it might have a deeper philosophical or scientific meaning. A debate should be about ideas, and not about the technicalities of how those ideas get expressed in words.


The dictionary defines feminism as "the advocacy of women's rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes" so if you criticize feminism then you are against equality of the sexes.

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