I recently read an opinion piece that I found to be totally convincing - it expressed things that I'd felt myself but had never previously been able to put into words - it hit the nail on the head.

When I was sending someone else a link to the article, I realised I couldn't think of a single adjective that expressed how I wanted to describe it. "You should read this _ article from (author)".

Does anyone have any ideas? I've come up with "convincing" and "incisive" but I don't think they quite express what I'm looking for. A thesaurus gave me "trenchant" which I think is a bit too obscure.

  • what about STFU? Example, "I tried to argue we shouldn't get married but her hair made me STFU."
    – Fattie
    Commented Sep 22, 2014 at 18:01
  • 5
    "Cogent" to me implies an argument that is well thought out and technically convincing.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Sep 22, 2014 at 22:05
  • Can I get a link to that article please? :)
    – CodeNewbie
    Commented Sep 23, 2014 at 6:56

6 Answers 6


Compelling comes to mind.

merriam-webster tells us:

very interesting : able to capture and hold your attention
capable of causing someone to believe or agree
strong and forceful : causing you to feel that you must do something
He made a compelling argument.

Another option might be persuasive, as Gary's Student mentions in his comment. As merriam-webster defines it:

able to cause people to do or believe something
able to persuade people

  • 13
    Also a persuasive argument. Commented Sep 22, 2014 at 12:46
  • @Gary'sStudent that's an alternative indeed. Thanks, I added it :)
    – oerkelens
    Commented Sep 22, 2014 at 12:49
  • Yes, I think persuasive is what I was looking for. Thanks!
    – GMA
    Commented Sep 22, 2014 at 13:02
  • compelling .. nice.
    – Fattie
    Commented Sep 22, 2014 at 17:59
  • "Compelling" is the first word that sprung to my mind.
    – Marthaª
    Commented Sep 23, 2014 at 13:29

I'm not normally keen on "grading" alternative ways of expressing something, because people don't always agree over which words are "stronger" or "weaker". But in this particular case I think almost everyone would agree that given...

Tom presented a convincing argument
Dick presented a compelling argument
Harry presented a killer argument

...we take it for granted that Harry would win hands if it came to a vote. In which context it's worth noting that we can quite naturally replace a with the killer argument (there's usually only one killer argument trumping all others), but it would be a bit odd to do that with the alternatives.

  • Good one, also knock-down argument maybe
    – Fattie
    Commented Sep 22, 2014 at 18:02
  • @Joe: I do know that version, but it's not so familiar to me. I just compared US/UK usage in Google Books, and was somewhat surprised to find that whereas it's been steadily declining in the US since its heyday in the late 1800s, it's actually become more prevalent in the British corpus over recent decades. But not everything suggested by Google Books is necessarily a true reflection of reality. Commented Sep 22, 2014 at 18:28
  • @Mari-Lou: That certainly wasn't my intention. I wanted to highlight my actual proposed "adjective to describe an argument" by making it a link to a killer argument dictionary definition, but I couldn't find one. Which is a bit odd, since it's a well-known idiom (with a lot of links to translations into other languages, in my Google search there). Commented Sep 23, 2014 at 11:51
  • I'm just saying what it "looks" like at a glance. It could be that users perceive your post containing three answers, all three expressions are in bold. I'm just saying!
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Sep 23, 2014 at 12:02
  • @Mari-Lou: I obviously haven't presented the killer argument for why my answer should have more votes! :) I could try removing the highlights for the other words, to see if that gets me any more votes, but I don't think it'll ever overtake compelling. I suppose it depends on whether you interpret OP's question as asking for the most common adjective for a "strong" case/argument, or asking for the adjective that unambiguously identifies the strongest one. Commented Sep 23, 2014 at 12:23

Try the adjective cogent if you want to say the argument is logical, well-organized, and persuasive. Wiktionary shows the following senses:

  1. Reasonable and convincing; based on evidence.
  2. Appealing to the intellect or powers of reasoning.
  3. Forcefully persuasive.

If the article helps in choosing one point of view from among several, or if it expresses an argument nearly irrefutably, consider decisive, with its sense “Having the power or quality of deciding a question or controversy; putting an end to contest or controversy; final; conclusive”.

An article that presents its argument neatly and compactly may be called pithy. From en.wiktionary, it means “Concise and meaningful”.

Also consider enlightening, present participle of verb enlighten, which is “To make clear to the intellect or conscience; to shed the light of truth and knowledge upon; to furnish with increase of knowledge; to instruct; as, to enlighten the mind or understanding”.


Influential may also convey the idea:

  • having the power to cause changes : having influence
  • having or exercising influence or power; "an influential newspaper"; "an influential speech"

    • His theories have become more influential in recent years.
    • My parents have been the most influential people in my life.

Source: www.thefreedictionary.com



as in, "It was a telling argument."

telling adjective

: producing a strong or important effect

: giving information about someone or something without intending to


I had to add a second one, because it was bothering me that nobody had...


1: having power to compel or constrain

2a : appealing forcibly to the mind or reason : convincing


  • sweet -- you're the SWR Elegance award for today. A telling argument.
    – Fattie
    Commented Sep 22, 2014 at 18:02
  • Please cite your source, before the "attribution police" comes along and deletes your post. (no kidding!) Now, was that a telling argument or a persuasive one?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Sep 23, 2014 at 6:47
  • Interestingly it's etymology, is from the meaning "to count or measure" as In "the clock tells time"... Commented Sep 23, 2014 at 18:02


It was a powerful article that changed my mind.

In your case, I would also suggest elucidatory, as you are not simply describing a compelling argument, but one that clarified some pre-conceived ideas and elucidated them in a way you were unable to.

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