Is there a specific name for rhetoric that follows this general form?

'Anyone that _____, (is a, must be, etc.) _______.'

I seem to recall that the above was a specific type of rhetoric pointed out in a freshman writing course. However, I am not certain of its name, and I am having trouble searching Google for this question. If it is considered a type (class, kind, etc.) of rhetoric, I am most interested to know the specific name for this form of rhetoric.


Note: For discussion purposes, it may be helpful to break this down into two part:
Phrase A: 'Anyone that _____,'
Phrase B: '(is a, must be, etc.) _______.'

1) I call this a form of rhetoric because phrase B contains a derogatory comment intended to shame a person into agreeing with the statement. (I should have been clearer on that.)
2) There is no prefacing statement about a superclass of person, place or things in which deduction can be performed on phrase A to arrive at phrase B.

  • I think perhaps you're looking for syllogism, which normally involves at least two [uncontested] propositions enabling one to deduce a third proposition. Smoking is unhealthy. Doing unhealthy things is stupid. Therefore anyone who smokes is stupid. In your case, unless the statement appears in a context where it represents such a logical deduction, it's just a stereotype Oct 19 '14 at 15:47
  • Thx @FumbleFingers. The example you gave uses a second *unspoken proposition: 'doing unhealthy things is stupid.' You sated that 'doing unhealthy things' is a class of activity with the attribute of 'stupid behavior'. Smoking belongs to the class of unhealthy things, therefore smoking is stupid. I get that; however the example I asked about was not prefaced with a superclass of things with a set of attributes. Therefore no deduction can be performed based on the statement alone. My original example statement is not a logical argument.
    – John R
    Oct 19 '14 at 17:28
  • Well, you didn't give any context, so your example might be preceded by a priori statements allowing the final deduction to be made. Otherwise, as I said, it's just a stereotype. Oct 19 '14 at 17:37

That has been called a "guilt by association ad hominem" attack, although it's far from being a well-known term.

Update in response to @John R's comment:

My logic is that the trope is saying this:

  • People that meet condition X are a bad group of people.
  • Person A meets condition X. Therefore person A is a bad person.
  • Therefore person A's argument is invalid.

It is a circular argument of course. "Only a bad person would hold opinion X therefore opinion X is invalid". It's not subtle, is it? :)

  • I had to think about it, but I don't think ad hominem matches the form of rhetoric. Ad hominem: Negative stereotype --implies--> false contentions. My original rhetoric: Belief in contention --implies--> negative stereotype.
    – John R
    Oct 19 '14 at 22:47

I found Ad populum in a list of "Logical Fallacies [to avoid]" in a discussion of rhetoric found at the following site:


Maybe this is what you remember hearing in that class.

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