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Ask-A-Linguist Message Details
|Subject:||Ad Hominem and Insult|
|Question:||Hello. Recently I was arguing with somebody over whether or not Ad Hominem is synonymous with insult since the person I was talking with used them interchangeably. My reasoning was that Ad Hominem is a fallacy meant to denote a fallacious reasoning associated with attacking a person. The person in question told me that any linguist would agree that ''semantic flexibility'' makes his use of Ad Hominem to mean 'insult' is valid. Is this true? Are Ad Hominem and insult interchangeable?|
|Reply:||As my colleagues have indicated, the terms are not really synonyms. The more common usage is "ad hominem attack" and it's because a debate opponent may attack an opponent's personal trait rather than the opponent's idea. Some egregious, but very common examples, are attacks on an opponent's speech pattern, social class or fashion sense.|
|Reply From:||Elizabeth J Pyatt click here to access email|