Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Appealing to personal considerations rather than to logic or reason: Debaters should avoid ad hominem arguments that question their opponents' motives.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A fallacious objection to an argument or factual claim by appealing to a characteristic or belief of the person making the argument or claim, rather than by addressing the substance of the argument or producing evidence against the claim; an attempt to argue against an opponent's idea by discrediting the opponent himself.
  • n. A personal attack.
  • adj. Of or relating to ad hominem.
  • adv. In an ad hominem manner.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • A phrase applied to an appeal or argument addressed to the principles, interests, or passions of a man.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. To the man; to the interests or passions of the person.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. appealing to personal considerations (rather than to fact or reason)

Etymologies

Latin : ad, to + hominem, accusative of hom┼Ź, man.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Shortened from the Latin expression argumentum ad hominem, argument at the man (man as in a human being, not man as a male). From argumentum (meaning "argument") + ad (meaning "to" or "at") + hominem, the accusative singular of homo (meaning "man"). It can also mean attacking the messenger. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • The following year, 1919, an all-out, ad hominem attack on Jellicoe appeared in The Battle of Jutland by Carlyon Bellairs.

    Castles of Steel

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