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Coming from my answer to question Is there a better noun form of “unreasonable” than “unreasonableness?”

What does it mean when someone calls himself "non sequitur"?


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closed as off-topic by Hot Licks, NVZ, curiousdannii, ab2, tchrist May 1 at 18:26

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

Please take the time to read your question, then you will note that the answer is right there in the last line. – RegDwigнt Mar 7 '11 at 16:09
Given that the question in your update is in no sense clear from context, or in any other way related to the basic stream-of-question as far as I can see, it is a perfect example of a non-sequitur. – user1579 Mar 7 '11 at 17:23
Further to the perfectly correct answers below, it's worth pointing out that someone who describes themselves as non sequitur is probably worth avoiding. They are akin to the person who describes themselves as wacky or crazy, and their attempts to demonstrate this are generally contrived and irritating. Anyone whose train of thought is genuinely unpredictable would lack the insight to describe themselves as non sequitur - it's a catch 22. – naughtilus Jul 15 '14 at 9:41
So, did you look in a dictionary? What does non sequitur mean? – Hot Licks Apr 29 at 11:43
up vote 4 down vote accepted

They are trying to give you the expectation that things they say will have no connection to anything that other people are saying, nor even anything that they themselves have previously said. If some folks are talking about their favorite cheese, Mr. Non-Sequitur will feel free to barge in and say something like "I want the sun for my pet." Which has absolutely nothing to do with cheese or anything else that anyone was saying; it's completely random and unconnected. If someone then asks why he wants the sun for a pet, Mr. Non-Sequitur will be perfectly happy to "explain" by saying something like "It's a good day for making snow forts in my basement." (Which, again, is totally unrelated, random, and rather nonsensical.)

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But it is a very bizarre usage, given that in English 'non sequitur' is perceived as a noun (except I guess in this very particular usage (which is totally new to me). – Mitch Apr 2 '11 at 17:19

They're using it as a synonym for senseless or random.

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The phrase "non sequitur" means a conclusion that does not follow from the previous argument or the cited evidence.

For example, suppose someone said, "Bob has been fired from his last three jobs. Bob is not a very good employee." That makes reasonable sense. "Bob is not a very good employee" is a plausible conclusion that one might draw from the fact that he has been fired three times.

But suppose someone said, "Bob has been fired from his last three jobs. Bob is not a very good brother." That makes no sense. It is not at all clear what losing his job has to do with being a good brother. This is a "non sequitur".

In real debates, a non sequitur is often far more subtle. Like in a political debate, someone might say that opinion polls showing a majority oppose a government policy prove that it is a bad policy. Someone on the other side might reply that this is a non sequitur: opinion polls might prove it is an unpopular policy, but that of itself doesn't prove it's a bad idea. Etc.

To say that a person is a non sequitur doesn't make literal sense. A person is not the conclusion of an argument. Someone might call himself a non sequitur as a joke or to make a point. Like your last example: I am a non sequitur because I am here to make no sense. I presume the other examples are in the same vein, but without more context, I can't say.

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