A friend made an argument that I thought was fairly strong but had fairly easy lines of attack available against it. (Whether or not these lines of attack are strong/valid is unknown.) Is there a good word or phrase that would describe this proposition of his? The best phrases I can think of are "potentially assailable proposition" or "an argument that may have holes in it" or "an argument potentially vulnerable to attack".

Assuming Bob is my friend who just made the argument described above, an example usage would be in response to him:

Bob, I think that is a ____.

Edit: After thinking about this more, a key point in this question is that the argument is only potentially weak but not certainly weak.

  • 1
    Hmm, "weak argument"? Commented Feb 23, 2016 at 5:12
  • @curious-proofreader I considered that, but the problem isn't that the argument is "weak" per se, but that it may have a weak spot (while not being weak in totality).
    – JKillian
    Commented Feb 23, 2016 at 5:14
  • 1
    flawed argument? vulnerable argument?
    – ab2
    Commented Feb 23, 2016 at 5:22
  • @ab2 "possibly flawed argument" conveys the meaning I'm looking for more or less, it's just a tad wordy :)
    – JKillian
    Commented Feb 23, 2016 at 5:25
  • "Bob, that's got loopholes written all over it", Sincerely, Alice! ;)
    – BiscuitBoy
    Commented Feb 23, 2016 at 9:07

6 Answers 6


Since you don't dispute the overall argument but consider that there may be some loopholes that could derail it, you may be better off going with the negative form: "Bob, I think this is not a watertight argument."

Watertight 2. (Of an argument or account) unable to be disputed or questioned - ODO

  • Great answer, I think this reflects what I want fairly accurately and is relatively idiomatic.
    – JKillian
    Commented Feb 23, 2016 at 20:08

You could consider using fallacy which means:

A fallacy is an incorrect argument in logic and rhetoric which undermines an argument's logical validity or more generally an argument's logical soundness. Fallacies are either formal fallacies or informal fallacies.

There are many types of fallacies and you could see them in the link.


  • 1
    But a fallacious argument doesn't just have "a weak spot"; it is inherently flawed in its core. Commented Feb 23, 2016 at 5:34
  • @curious-proofreader You are right in a sense. There is no word that can replace “an argument/proposition potentially vulnerable to attack. I thought about posting a flawed argument, but it is one of fallacies.
    – user140086
    Commented Feb 23, 2016 at 5:38

An argument intended to promote a serious discussion could be called a 'tentative argument'.

Otherwise, it doesn't hold water, which implies the burden of proof has not been met.

  • This is what I'd use. I suppose that (almost?) all arguments are less than cast-iron in practice, but 'tentative' is a modal marker indicating 'way less than cast-iron'. Commented Feb 23, 2016 at 11:52

I think the word that best conveys the meaning that you're looking for is assailable, from assail, which means to attack a military position or to strongly criticise a person or viewpoint.

  • 1
    The distributions of 'assailable' and 'unassailable' do not correspond. 'Unassailable argument' alone is idiomatic. Commented Feb 23, 2016 at 11:49

Bob, I think that is a chink in your armour/(Chiefly AmEng) armor.

Chink refers to a narrow opening. It’s often used in the phrase chink in [one’s] armor, which refers to a weakness that provides an opening for attack. Grammarist



Bob, I think we can use that proposition as a straw man proposal.

A straw-man proposal is a brainstormed simple draft proposal intended to generate discussion of its disadvantages and to provoke the generation of new and better proposals. The term is considered American business jargon, but it's also encountered in engineering office culture. 

-- source Wikipedia

Also an Aunt Sally proposal is a similar British concept.

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