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[kap-shuh s] /ˈkæp ʃəs/
apt to notice and make much of trivial faults or defects; faultfinding; difficult to please.
proceeding from a faultfinding or caviling disposition:
He could never praise without adding a captious remark.
apt or designed to ensnare or perplex, especially in argument:
captious questions.
Origin of captious
1350-1400; Middle English capcious < Latin captiōsus sophistical, equivalent to capti(ō) a taking, hence, sophism (see caption) + -ōsus -ous
Related forms
captiously, adverb
captiousness, noun
noncaptious, adjective
noncaptiously, adverb
noncaptiousness, noun
overcaptious, adjective
overcaptiously, adverb
overcaptiousness, noun
uncaptious, adjective
uncaptiously, adverb
uncaptiousness, noun
1. carping, nitpicking, niggling, picky, testy. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for captious
  • In trying to be more serious, the play only becomes more captious.
  • But even if he succeeds, his credibility as the head of a captious party is likely to crumble.
  • Through his pen, inanity became animate, and the captious craft of caricature was raised to character study.
  • It seems to meet the approval of the taxpayers as it stands, and may readily be changed to suit the views of the captious ones.
British Dictionary definitions for captious


apt to make trivial criticisms; fault-finding; carping
Derived Forms
captiously, adverb
captiousness, noun
Word Origin
C14 (meaning: catching in error): from Latin captiōsus, from captiō a seizing; see caption
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for captious

c.1400, capcyus, from Middle French captieux (15c.) or directly from Latin captiosus "fallacious," from captionem (nominative captio) "a deceiving, fallacious argument," literally "a taking (in)," from captus, past participle of capere "to take, catch" (see capable). Related: Captiously; captiousness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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