Borrowed from Late Latin spurius (illegitimate, bastardly), possibly related to sperno or from Etruscan.



spurious (comparative more spurious, superlative most spurious)

  1. False, not authentic, not genuine.
    His argument was spurious and had no validity.
    • 2013, Russell Brand, Russell Brand and the GQ awards: 'It's amazing how absurd it seems' (in The Guardian, 13 September 2013)[1]
      We witness that there is a relationship between government, media and industry that is evident even at this most spurious and superficial level. These three institutions support one another. We know that however cool a media outlet may purport to be, their primary loyalty is to their corporate backers. We know also that you cannot criticise the corporate backers openly without censorship and subsequent manipulation of this information.
    • 2019 July 19, Noah Kulwin, “Democrats Fail the Left, Once Again”, in Jewish Currents[2]:
      [Ilhan] Omar was left twisting in the wind earlier this year after facing spurious charges of antisemitism, a display of Democratic cowardice co-signed by Chelsea Clinton, Chuck Schumer, and most every other Democrat with a congressional leadership position.
  2. Extraneous; stray; not relevant or wanted.
    I tried to concentrate on the matter in hand, but spurious thoughts kept intruding.
    Spurious emissions from the wireless mast were causing nearby electrical equipment to go haywire.
  3. (archaic) bastardly, illegitimate
    • 1671, John Milton, Samson Agonistes[3], line 391:
      [] / Her spurious first-born; Treason against me? / —

Usage notesEdit

  • Nouns often used with "spurious": correlation, result, claim, relationship, signal, model, regression, oscillation, effect, emission, article, work, writing, issue, coin, imitation, profundity, reasoning, justification, offspring



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