• Argument


    • RP IPA: en, /ˈɑːɡjʊmənt/
    • GA
    • Hyphenation: en + ar + gu + ment

    Origin 1

    From ,

    MED Online|entry=argūment|pos=n|id=MED2217

    from and , from , from arguere + -mentum.

    OED Online|pos=n|id=10663|date=March 2021|nodot=1; Lexico|pos=n

    Arguere is the of arguō, either ultimately from , or from . The English word is analysable as en + -argue + ment.

    Full definition of argument



    (countable and uncountable; plural arguments)
    1. (countable, also, figuratively) A fact or statement used to support a proposition; a reason.
      • Ray Wisdom|chapter=Psalms 104. 24. How Manifold are thy Works O Lord? In Wisdom hast thou made them all.|pages=11–12|pageref=11|passage=There is no greater, at leaſt no more palpable and convincing Argument of the Exiſtence of a Deity than the admirable Art and Wiſdom that diſcovers itſelf in the make and conſtitution, the order and diſpoſition, the ends and uſes of all the parts and members of this ſtately fabrick of Heaven and Earth.
      • Melville Moby-Dick|chapter=Stubb’s Supper|pages=446–447|pageref=447|passage=Says Plowdon Edmund Plowden, the whale so caught belongs to the King and Queen, “because of its superior excellence.” And by the soundest commentators this has ever been held a cogent argument in such matters.
      1. (logic, philosophy) A series of propositions organized so that the final proposition is a conclusion which is intended to follow logically from the preceding propositions, which function as premises.
        • 2001, Mark Sainsbury, Logical Forms: An Introduction to Philosophical Logic Chapter Validity, Consider the argument:
          15) I am hungry; therefore I am hungry.
          Intuitively this should count as valid. But suppose we thought of the components of arguments as sentences, and suppose we imagine the context shifting between the utterance of the premise and the utterance of the conclusion. Suppose you are hungry and utter the premise, and I am not hungry and utter the conclusion. Then we would have a true premise and a false conclusion, so the argument would not be valid. Clearly we need to avoid such problems, and introducing the notion of a proposition, in the style of this section, is one way of doing so.
        • 20 July 2011, Edwin Mares, Propositional Functions, In ‘The Critic of Arguments’ (1892), w
    2. (countable) A process of reasoning; argumentation.
      • Bunyan Pilgrim's Progress|reprint=1875|page=84|passage=Indeed, I cannot commend my life; for I am conſcious to my ſelf of many failings: therein, I know alſo that a man by his converſation, may ſoon overthrow what by argument or perſwaſion he doth labour to faſten upon others for their good: ...
      • Locke Human Understanding|chapter=Of the Remedies of the foregoing Imperfections and Abuses|section=6|page=252|passage=For if the Idea be not agreed on, betwixt the Speaker and Hearer, for which the Words ſtand, the Argument is not about Things, but Names.
      • Mary Shelley Frankenstein|volume=II|chapter=I|page=146|passage=I shuddered when I thought of the possible consequences of my consent; but I felt that there was some justice in his argument.
      • 2 October 2016, Nick Cohen, Liberal Guilt Won’t Fight Nationalism, Meanwhile, the authoritarianism, which has turned left-liberalism into a movement for sneaks and prudes, was always going to play into the hands of the right. Free citizens have stopped listening to those who respond to the challenge of argument by screaming for the police to arrest the politically incorrect or for universities to ban speakers who depart from leftish orthodoxy.
    3. (countable) An abstract or summary, as of the contents of a book, chapter, or poem; (figuratively) the contents themselves.
      • Shakespeare Timon|act=II|scene=ii|page=84|column=2|passage=If I would broach the veſſels of my loue,
        And try the argument of hearts, by borrowing,
        Men, and mens fortunes, could I frankely vſe
        As I can bid thee ſpeake.
    4. (countable) A verbal dispute; a quarrel.
      The neighbours got into an argument about the branches of the trees that extended over the fence.
      • Shakespeare Love's Labour's Lost Q1|act=III|scene=i|page=24|passage=Armado. Come hither, come hither: How did this argument begin.
        Boy. By ſaying that a Coſtard was broken in a ſhin,
        Then cald you for the Lenuoy l'envoy.
        Clowi.e., Costard. True, and I for a Plantan, thus came your argument in,
        Then the boyes fat Lenuoy, the Gooſe that you bought, and he ended the market.
      • Milton Paradise Regained|book=Samson Agonistes|page=56|lines=904–905|passage=In argument with men a woman ever
        Goes by the worſe, whatever be her cauſe.
    5. (linguistics)(countable, linguistics) Any of the phrases that bears a syntactic connection to the verb of a clause.
      • 1988, Andrew Radford, Transformational Grammar: A First Course Chapter The Lexicon, In numerous works over the past two decades, beginning with the pioneering work of Gruber (1965), Fillmore (1968a), and Jackendoff (1972), it has been argued that each Argument (i.e. Subject or Complement) of a Predicate bears a particular thematic role (alias theta-role, or θ-role to its Predicate), and that the set of thematic functions which Arguments can fulfil are drawn from a highly restricted, finite, universal set.
    6. (countable, mathematics)
      1. The independent variable of a function.
      2. The phase of a complex number.
      3. (also, astronomy) A quantity on which the calculation of another quantity depends.
        The altitude is the argument of the refraction.
    7. (countable, programming)
      1. A value, or a reference to a value, passed to a function.
        Parameters are like labelled fillable blanks used to define a function whereas arguments are passed to a function when calling it, filling in those blanks.
      2. A parameter at a function call; an actual parameter, as opposed to a formal parameter.
    8. (countable, obsolete)
      1. A matter in question; a business in hand.
        • Shakespeare Richard 2 Q1|act=I|scene=i|page=11|passage=As neere as I could ſift him on that argument,
          On ſome apparent danger ſeene in him,
          Aimde at your highnes, no inueterate malice.
        • Shakespeare Henry 5|act=III|scene=i|page=77|column=2|passage=On, on, you Nobliſh Engliſh,
          Whoſe blood is fet from Fathers of Warre-proofe:
          Fathers, that like ſo many Alexanders,
          Haue in theſe parts from Morne till Euen fought,
          And ſheath’d their Swords, for lack of argument.
      2. The subject matter of an artistic representation, discourse, or writing; a theme or topic.
        • Ascham Scholemaster|chapter=Preface|page=23|passage=In vttering the ſtuffe ye receiued of the one, in declaring the order ye tooke with the other, ye ſhall neuer lacke, neither matter, nor maner, what to write, nor how to write in this kinde of Argument.
        • Shakespeare Hamlet Q1-2|version=Q2|act=III|scene=ii|page=56|passage=Belike this ſhow imports the argument of the play.|translation=This show is perhaps the subject of the play.
        • Shakespeare Sonnets|sonnet=76|page=106|passage=O know ſweet loue I alwaies write of you,
          And you and loue are ſtill my argument: ...
        • Milton Paradise Lost|book=VI|page=174|lines=81–86|passage=Nearer view
          Briſtl'd with upright beams innumerable
          Of rigid Spears, and Helmets throng'd, and Shields
          Various, with boaſtful Argument portraid,
          The banded Powers of Satan haſting on
          With furious expedition; ...
        • 1844, Francis Jeffrey, Contributions to the Edinburgh Review. Chapter Sardanapalus, a Tragedy. The Two Foscari, a Tragedy. Cain, a Mystery. By Lord Byron. 8vo. pp. 440. Murray, London: 1822. review, The abstract, or argument of the piece, is shortly as follows.
    9. (uncountable, archaic) Evidence, proof; (countable) an item of such evidence or proof.
      • Shakespeare Much Ado About Nothing Q|act=II|scene=iii|page=34|passage=For louing me, by my troth it is no addition to her wit, nor no great argument of her follie, for I will be horribly in loue with her, ...

    Usage notes

    Adjectives often used with argument: valid, invalid, correct, incorrect, right, wrong, strong, weak, convincing, unconvincing, conclusive, inconclusive, fallacious, simple, straightforward, inductive, deductive, logical, illogical, absurd, specious, flawed.

    (parameter at a function call) some authors regard the use of argument to mean “formal parameter” to be imprecise, preferring that argument be used to refer only to the value that is used to instantiate the parameter at runtime, while parameter refers only to the name in the function definition that will be instantiated.

    Alternative forms


    Derived terms

    Related terms

    Origin 2

    The obsolete senses are derived from ,

    MED Online|entry=argūmenten|pos=v|id=MED2220

    from , from , the of argūmentor, from argūmentum (see further at etymology 1)

    OED Online|entry=† argument|pos=v|id=MED2220|date=March 2021

    +‎ -or (the present of ).

    The current sense is derived from the .


    1. (intransitive, obsolete, now nonstandard, NNES) To put forward as an argument; to argue.
      • Topsell Foure-footed Beastes|chapter=Of the Elephant|page=194|passage=It is moſt certaine, that after Herodotus and other auncient writers, it is ſafer to call theſe tusks teeth, then hornes; and I will breefly ſet downe the reaſons of Philostratus, that will haue them to be teeth, and afterward of Grapaldus Francesco Mario Grapaldi, , and , that would make them horns, and ſo leaue the reader to conſider whether opinion he thinketh moſt agreeable to truth. ... Thus they argument for the horns of Elephants.
      • 1637, Gillespie, A Dispvte against the English-Popish Ceremonies Obtrvded vpon the Chvrch of Scotland. Chapter That the Ceremonies are Unlawfull, because They are Monuments of By-past Idolatry,, Both kneeling, and all the reſt of the Popiſh Ceremonies, may well be compared to the w
      • 1762, attributed to w, w:Artaxerxes (opera) Chapter Preface, ... And w:George Granville, 1st Baron Lansdowne
      • a. 1848, Thomas Chalmers, Miscellanies; Embracing Reviews, Essays, and Addresses Chapter Introductory Essay to a Treatise on the Faith and Influence of the Gospel. By the Rev. Archibald Hall., But, can this be alleged of him who has oft been heard to speak of faith and of works together—and who, after argumenting the utter worthlessness of the latter, has confined most rigidly to the former all of power and of efficacy that there is in the business of salvation?
      • Twain Innocents Abroad|chapter=XIX|page=190|passage=Here, in Milan, is an ancient tumble-down ruin of a church, is the mournful wreck of the most celebrated painting in the world—"The Last Supper (Leonardo)," by Leonardo da Vinci. ... And the first thing that occurred was the infliction on us of a placard fairly reeking with wretched English. ... And then Peter is described as "argumenting in a threatening and angrily condition at Judas Iscariot."
      • 1983, Gregory J. Scott, Marketing Bhutan’s Potatoes: Present Patterns and Future Prospects, Hence, domestic potato marketing cannot be argumented in such fashion.
      • 1993, Andreas Gourmelon, Rehabilitation Technology: Strategies for the European Union: Chapter A Method to Analyse the Strain of Memory of Elderly Persons Working with Information Technologies, It may be argumented that many elderly persons stay at home and do not even try to use a ticket machine.
      • 1999, Bernd A. Neubauer, Genetics of Focal Epilepsies: Clinical Aspects and Molecular Biology Chapter The Genetics of Rolandic Epilepsy and Related Conditions: Multifactorial Inheritance with a Major Gene Effect, This was first enunciated by Loiseau et al. (1967) when he argumented that RE 'does not exist' in clinical practice, referring to its pure, typical form.
      • 2012, Harry Fokkens, Background to Beakers: Inquiries into Regional Cultural Backgrounds of the Bell Beaker Complex Chapter Background to Dutch Beakers: A Critical Review of the Dutch Model, The settlement data do in fact not support the Dutch Model, and it is argumented that the ¹⁴C-evidence for the model is absent as well.
      • 2013, Daniel Gurski, Customer Experiences Affect Customer Loyalty: An Empirical Investigation of the Starbucks Experience Using Structural Equation Modeling Chapter Conclusion, Although it is argumented that organizational learning is based on individual learning (Song et al., 2008), the insights from this study are not generalizable for business-to-business markets.
    2. (intransitive, obsolete) To adduce evidence, to provide proof.
      • 1558, Quintine Kennedy Quintin Kennedy, Ane Compendius Tractiue Conforme to the Scripturis of Almychtie God, Ressoun, and Authoritie, Chapter 5, Albeit that it apperteneth to the apoſtolis, be the puiſtoun of God to tak ordour in all materis off debait cõcernyng ye faith, & ſpecialie to iterprete ye ſcripturis, as yat quhilkis had yͤ ſpreit of god, & wer yͤ trew kirk: It argumẽtis argumentis not yat vtheris, quhat


    Further reading

    • Century 1911
    • Webster 1913
    © Wiktionary