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.

For example, person A states something. Person B says "And pigs fly" to imply person A was wrong.

If there's no term for it, what could you call that that sounds smart?

share|improve this question
    
It's called sarcasm. –  Mark Oct 2 '11 at 7:19
add comment

2 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

To a logician, your examples would be reductio ad absurdum. "If that's true, then I'm a Dutchman/the Queen" is both a well-attested phrase and a valid proposition, implying that whatever it is is false. Similarly, "And pigs fly" asserts the equivalency of what has just been said to a clearly absurd proposition. (Martin Gardner, in The Annotated Snark, traces the phrase to "an old Scottish saying, 'Pigs may fly, but it isn't likely'.")

share|improve this answer
    
Also called the absurd consequences move. –  Barrie England Oct 2 '11 at 11:39
    
Thanks, reductio ad absurdum is the closest to what I wanted. –  Boann Oct 2 '11 at 17:05
add comment

A general word for such a response is retort, before which you can use a relevant adjective if necessary.

You could call the above, for instance, a sarcastic or witty retort. (Though I think you'd have to do a bit better than "and pigs fly" to merit the word witty.)

Another option is riposte.

I should add that neither retorts nor ripostes need be "false" themselves. They do, however, highlight the falsity or absurdity of what was just said.

share|improve this answer
1  
"O Sir, we quarrel in print, by the book, as you have books for good manners. I will name you the degrees. The first, the Retort Courteous; the second, the Quip Modest; the third, the Reply Churlish; the fourth, the Reproof Valiant; the fifth, the Countercheck Quarrelsome; the sixth, the Lie with Circumstance; the seventh, the Lie Direct." As You Like It V, 4 –  TimLymington Oct 5 '11 at 9:57
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

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