Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

When an argument or debate degrades to nitpicking insignificant points, such that it becomes too tiresome and unproductive to continue, one party may concede the debate simply to end it.

Perhaps the points being debated are so mundane or tangential to the central topic that they are irrelevant.

One person outwardly admits defeat, but the internal motivation is exhaustion, boredom or a desire to keep the peace, rather than sincere conviction.

Is there a single word or phrase to describe this act?

share|improve this question
7  
yes, "Ain't nobody got time for this" –  amphibient May 8 at 17:17
3  
Danish has a semi-idiom for this precise situation: du får ret, og jeg får fred (semi-literally “you get to be right, and I get peace” or perhaps “I'll let you be right if you'll let me in peace”). Can't think of an exact parallel in English, unfortunately. –  Janus Bahs Jacquet May 8 at 17:56
1  
Argumentum ad nauseam or argumentum ad infinitum fit this situation perfectly, I'd say. –  JLG May 8 at 18:03
    
deferring is fairly close for a single word because it conveys the meaning of giving in without necessarily agreeing. –  FizzledOut May 9 at 0:05
1  
@Janus: Exactly the same phrase exists in German: Du hast recht, und ich hab' meine Ruh. It says literally "you are right, and I have my peace", but it doesn't mean that - it means I am right, but I cannot be bothered arguing with you. Cannot think of an exact phrase in English. –  gnasher729 May 9 at 15:03

12 Answers 12

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Acquiesce: accept something reluctantly but without protest. "Sara acquiesced in his decision"

share|improve this answer

How about capitulate?

I myself like (and use) you may be right, but only with people who have a sense of humor and are not likely to slug me.

share|improve this answer

Not quite as concessive as what you're after, but often useful nevertheless:

{Let's just / We'll have to} agree to disagree on this one.

share|improve this answer

Particularly in political debates or elections, one party can withdraw without necessarily conceding defeat.

Further on that topic, if the party were to withdraw from the debate at a point when both parties are on equal footing - neither winning nor losing - the party that withdraws may appear weak to observing parties.

However, if the party were to withdraw at a point where they are clearly winning, and the opposition party is no longer making even remotely valid points, it would not appear weak to observing parties. Depending on context, it may appear mature, arrogant or funny, to name just a few possibilities.

Withdraw - cease to participate in an activity

Similarly:

You could cease and desist from further communication.

This would imply a formal and very serious tone.

You could discontinue the argument.

This lacks finality and could be used if you might want to continue it later. Also, quite neutral.

You could (refrain/restrain yourself) from further discussion.

This may have good applicability to the OPs specific circumstances. Implying you want to continue arguing your point, but you need to stop yourself.

You could forgo further discussion.

This could imply you want to keep debating but for some reason you can't, maybe because you're running out of time. Also quite a polite way to end a discussion.

In a different tone, perhaps to keep the peace:

You could contain the argument.

Keep it from straying where it shouldn't.

You could suppress the argument.

If you're Dr. Evil and they're about to publicise your plan for world domination.

share|improve this answer
2  
I quite like "withdraw", as most others (like "capitulate") seem to indicate to me (foreign speaker though I am) a measure of bowing to the other person's argument as well as the fruitlessness of the debate, which "withdraw" doesn't. Then again, my feeling might just be wrong... –  DevSolar May 9 at 10:09

If you humor your opponent to end an argument, then that would suggest that you have capitulated without actually agreeing with them.

After half an hour trying to decide which team had the better chances, Eric decided to humor his friend and agreed that <Teamname> was the likely more winner.

I like Elian's suggestion of throw in the towel too. The difference seems to me to be that with throw in the towel you're suggesting a termination of effort. The one giving in is done trying to convince the other person.

share|improve this answer

You could use diplomatically concede.

After spending half an hour trying to convince his boss that the office report shouldn't written in Comic Sans, John diplomatically conceded the point.

share|improve this answer

How about surrender?

Bill surrendered the debate once he determined it was pointless.

share|improve this answer

I would just say, "Fuck it" or "This is not worth arguing".

share|improve this answer

Perhaps, further discussion is futile.

share|improve this answer
1  
That really isn't conceding the debate. It's calling it a draw. I'm thinking of a scenario where one party outwardly admits defeat, but the internal motivation is exhaustion and/or boredom, rather than sincere conviction. –  Asaph May 8 at 17:39
    
Gotcha, maybe 'cede' or 'relinquish' fit better then? Cede comes straight from Latin cedere to retreat or yield, and to relinquish is to give up or abandon. edit: note, cede rather than concede, because you aren't yielding completely, you are doing it out of convenience. –  Sam May 8 at 17:49

Although it's probably heard more often in physical sports, I don't see why one couldn't tank a debate.

share|improve this answer
    
This does not provide an answer to the question. To critique or request clarification from an author, leave a comment below their post - you can always comment on your own posts, and once you have sufficient reputation you will be able to comment on any post. –  Ronan May 9 at 8:38
    
Yes it does. My answer to the question is "tank a debate". –  blackappy May 11 at 5:02

A related term, which you may find useful, is handwaving.

In a debate, handwaving means to provide an argument which you believe to be true, but you are not willing or able to articulate your rationale on why this is the case. In this, you are essentially conceding a point, usually to move onto a bigger more important point.

share|improve this answer

Throw in the towel or throw up one's hands maybe.

throw in the towel: to cease trying to continue.

throw up one's hands: to cease an attempt because it is perceived as doomed or unproductive.

Alternately, consider back down, pull out, abandon, and the idiomatic "I'm out" and "count me out."

back down: to abandon an argument, opinion, or claim; to withdraw.

pull out: to withdraw from something.

abandon: to desist from; cease trying to continue.

share|improve this answer

protected by RegDwigнt May 12 at 9:00

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality answers, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site.

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.