Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day for January 11, 2019 is:

syllogism • \SIL-uh-jiz-um\  • noun

1 : a deductive scheme of a formal argument consisting of a major and a minor premise and a conclusion

2 : a subtle, specious, or crafty argument

3 : deductive reasoning


“Plato’s pupil Aristotle developed the techniques of logical analysis that still enable us to get at the knowledge hidden within us. He examined propositions by stating possible contradictions and developed the syllogism, a method of proof based on stated premises.” — Mary Lefkowitz, The New York Times Book Review, 23 Jan. 2000

“In some states … there are calls to eliminate courses in literature, philosophy, history and other fields of the humanities. Students want and need technical, employable skills, not sonnets or syllogisms, it is said.” — Scott D. Miller, The Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk, Virginia), 3 June 2018

Did you know?

For those trained in formal argument, the syllogism is a classical form of deduction, specifically an argument consisting of a major and a minor premise and a conclusion. One example is the inference that “kindness is praiseworthy” from the premises “every virtue is praiseworthy” and “kindness is a virtue.” Syllogism came to English through Anglo-French from Latin syllogismus, which in turn can be traced back to the Greek verb syllogizesthai, meaning “to infer.” In Greek logizesthai means “to calculate” and derives from logos, meaning “word” or “reckoning.” Syl- comes from syn-, meaning “with” or “together.”

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