from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Given to or characterized by disputatious, often specious argument.
  • noun One given to disputation or argument.
  • noun The art or practice of disputation and polemics.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Pertaining to disputation or controversy; controversial; disputatious; captious.
  • noun One given to disputation; a controversialist.
  • noun An art of logical criticism practised by the Megarics and other ancient philosophers. It has the appearance of mere captiousness and quibbling, but had a serious motive.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adjective Archaic Controversial.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective Of something or someone provoking strife, controversy or discord.
  • noun One who makes specious arguments; one who is is disputatious.
  • noun A type of dialogue or argument where the participants do not have any reasonable goal. The aim is to argue for the sake of conflict, and often to see who can yell the loudest.

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

  • noun a person who disputes; who is good at or enjoys controversy
  • adjective given to disputation for its own sake and often employing specious arguments
  • noun the art of logical disputation (especially if specious)


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

[Greek eristikos, from erizein, to wrangle, quarrel, from eris, erid-, strife.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From the ancient Greek word meaning wrangle or strife. See also Eris.


Help support Wordnik (and make this page ad-free) by adopting the word eristic.



Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • Does free speech tend to move toward the truth or away from it? When does it evolve into a better collective understanding? When does it collapse into the Babel of trolling, the pointless and eristic game of talking the other guy into crying “uncle�??

    The New York Times, The Trolls Among Us, by Mattathias Schwartz, August 3, 2008

    August 1, 2008

  • Hey, that's the same article that brought me here to this word! :)

    December 19, 2008

  • Comes from Eris, the goddess of discord?

    January 26, 2009

  • I Am Lapidary But Not Eristic When I Use Big Words

    February 16, 2009

  • "But whatever clever eristic moves you make, there's a problem on the horizon—extreme academe is heading our way." "Will the Book Survive Generation Text?" by Carlin Romano, in The Chronicle Review

    September 3, 2010

  • We know it from lore and statistic:

    A boy who’s persistently fistic

    Will find legal brawling

    His natural calling,

    Rewarding his talents eristic.

    February 24, 2018