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reductio ad absurdum

[ri-duhk-tee-oh ad ab-sur-duh m, -zur-, -shee-oh] /rɪˈdʌk tiˌoʊ ˈæd æbˈsɜr dəm, -ˈzɜr-, -ʃiˌoʊ/
noun, Logic.
1.
a reduction to an absurdity; the refutation of a proposition by demonstrating the inevitably absurd conclusion to which it would logically lead.
Origin
1735-1745
1735-45; < Latin reductiō ad absurdum
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for reductio ad absurdum

reductio ad absurdum

/rɪˈdʌktɪəʊ æd æbˈsɜːdəm/
noun
1.
a method of disproving a proposition by showing that its inevitable consequences would be absurd
2.
a method of indirectly proving a proposition by assuming its negation to be true and showing that this leads to an absurdity
3.
application of a principle or proposed principle to an instance in which it is absurd
Word Origin
Latin, literally: reduction to the absurd
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for reductio ad absurdum

Latin, literally "reduction to the absurd." Absurdum is neuter of absurdus. See reduction + absurd. The tactic is useful and unobjectionable in proofs in geometry.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Article for reductio ad absurdum

(Latin: "reduction to absurdity"), in logic, a form of refutation showing contradictory or absurd consequences following upon premises as a matter of logical necessity. A form of the reductio ad absurdum argument, known as indirect proof or reductio ad impossibile, is one that proves a proposition by showing that its denial conjoined with other propositions previously proved or accepted leads to a contradiction. In common speech the term reductio ad absurdum refers to anything pushed to absurd extremes.

Learn more about reductio ad absurdum with a free trial on Britannica.com
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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