beg the question


beg the question
beg the question
means, strictly speaking, to question an unproved assumption that is used as the basis for an argument. For example, to ask ‘why do you listen to that rubbish?’ begs the question when the quality of the music is the point at issue. In general use, beg the question has come to mean (1) ‘bring a question to mind’ (e.g.

• I am not saying these drivers should be prosecuted, but if the new rules are not enforced, it begs the question what is the point of it? —Northern Echo, 2007)

and (2) ‘avoid a straightforward answer’ (e.g.

• He simply begged the question by saying that the decisions he disapproved invented new rights —New York Review of Books, 1987).

These weakened meanings should be avoided in precise English; available alternatives are, for (1) raise (or suggest or invite) the question, and for (2) evade (or avoid) the question.

Modern English usage. 2014.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • beg the question — In philosophy to beg the question is to assume something to be true that has not yet been proved. I have seen the idiom also to mean that a question is crying out to be asked …   The small dictionary of idiomes

  • beg the question — ► beg the question 1) (of a fact or action) invite a question or point that has not been dealt with. 2) assume the truth of a proposition without arguing it. Main Entry: ↑beg …   English terms dictionary

  • beg the question — 1. To avoid giving an answer 2. To assume that the thing to be proved is already true in one of the premises, or in part of the proof (logic) 3. To raise an issue for debate (non standard) • • • Main Entry: ↑beg …   Useful english dictionary

  • Beg the Question — is a graphic novel by Bob Fingerman. It chronicles the trials and tribulations of Rob, a squeamish freelance cartoonist/pornographer, and Sylvia, a beauty salon manager with loftier aspirations, with a supporting cast featuring Jack, an unhappily …   Wikipedia

  • beg the question — index prevaricate Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • beg the question —    In philosophy to beg the question is to assume something to be true that has not yet been proved. I have seen the idiom also to mean that a question is crying out to be asked.   (Dorking School Dictionary) …   English Idioms & idiomatic expressions

  • beg the question — verb a) To engage in the logical fallacy of begging the question (petitio principii). The objection is that the argument begs the question, meaning that the premise, that God has all the virtues, assumes the conclusion, that God is benevolent. b) …   Wiktionary

  • beg the question — 1. if a statement or situation begs the question, it causes you to ask a particular question. It s all very well talking about extra staff but it rather begs the question of how we re going to pay for them. 2. if something that someone says begs… …   New idioms dictionary

  • beg the question — 1) to make you want to know the answer to a particular question If she got caught stealing money and she s still here, it begs the question: What would she have to do to get fired? 2) formal to discuss a problem, issue, or fact as if it… …   English dictionary

  • beg the question — {v. phr.}, {literary} To accept as true something that is still being argued about, before it is proved true; avoid or not answer a question or problem. * /The girls asked Miss Smith if they should wear formal dresses to the party; Miss Smith… …   Dictionary of American idioms