Is there a word for an example that is wrong?

That is, using an example in an argument that is either a misrepresentation or does not illustrate what the arguer suggests it does.

Is there a word for this kind of false example?

  • I don't know of a word specific to "bad examples," but "irrelevant" might work in this case. – Kurt E. Clothier Apr 5 '14 at 19:08
  • Contradiction sounds like the term you are looking for. – R Sahu Oct 7 '14 at 1:46

For the "invalid argument" itself, I'm quite partial to...

specious - superficially plausible, but actually wrong

And for the "invalid example" supporting what may in fact be a valid argument,...

spurious - not being what it purports to be; false or fake

As this NGram for argument, and this one for example show, many others do the same.


I believe that sophistry, meaning a clever but flawed argument, is applicable here.


I think that fallacy fits really well here.

a deceptive, misleading, or false notion, belief

You could use illusion too but many people associate that with magic/wizardry.

an erroneous mental representation

The speaker was definitely committing an act of prevarication.

a statement that deviates from or perverts the truth

But most people would just say lie.


If your example is practicing an "adherence to or persistence in an erroneous use of language, memorization, practice, belief, etc., out of habit or obstinacy", it is a mumpsimus

If your example is of "Incorrect doctrine or opinions", it is a cacodoxy

If they are making a point but failing or ignoring to address the topic, it is referred to as a 'ignoratio elenchi'


If the example was an honest attempt at refuting my position, I would simply point out how the example was flawed:

Your example is flawed, because it makes a false assumption.

If the example was a deliberate attempt to misrepresent my position, I would say that the example is a fabrication.

fabricate: to create or make up (something, such as a story) in order to trick people
(Source: Merriam-Webster)


I would say in my field that it is an invalid example. Nothing more fancy than that.

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