Is there a term for when an arguer simultaneously (1) states their case again and (2) claims the argument should stop?


Thread #4522, Post #51:  I will just say one last time that there
                         is no way Frank would have done that, and
                         it is clear at this point that the manager
                         was 100% correct in her assessment.  But
                         really, let's stop arguing about this.

It is odd because if the person really wants the back-and-forth to stop, then obviously they shouldn't lob another volley. It seems to be an attempt to end the argument while letting themself have the last word.

This is a very common (and rarely successful) tactic in arguments in online forums. I think the people doing it often don't realize the hypocrisy of what they are doing: they themselves are continuing the argument, while they are asking the other person to stop.

This isn't exactly a fallacious argument, so it is unlikely to appear in a list of fallacies, nor is it the sort of behavioral pattern that would appear in a list of unconstructive behaviors. And yet it is so common to see that I would expect there to be a term for it.

Here are the most related terms I can find, but none of them comes close to pinpointing this common tactic.

  • "Argumentum ad baculum" with the implicit threat being that the argument will continue if the opponent does not capitulate. But this is not a physical threat.
  • "Thought-terminating cliché", although there is not really a set phrase that is used, and the request to stop arguing is also not on-topic, so this is not a great fit either.
  • "Argumentum ad nauseam" is often being used simultaneously, and this (saying the argument should stop) seems to be an appeal for the other person to let this tactic succeed already without the speaker needing to continue any longer.

I would expect the term to be a word or phrase usable in a sentence such as "The post quoted above in grey is a good example of ________." But even if the usage would differ from that, it would be useful to have any word or phrase that clearly indicates this tactic.

  • This is a good one. But you should add a example sentence with the blank for the desired word, showing how you intend to use the word. Maybe it would simply be "this behaviour is an example of ______," maybe you're looking for somehting else. Often the ideal word depends on the intended use, and providing such an example sentence is actually a requirement in single-word-request questions.
    – Jacinto
    Commented May 25, 2017 at 18:49
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    The person is "contriving to have the last word".
    – WS2
    Commented May 25, 2017 at 19:15
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    'claiming the last word' could work. perhaps, "invoking the last word" , although you'd invoke a established rule. "The chairperson claimed the last word by stating her viewpoint then immediately closing arguments on the issue." ?
    – Tom22
    Commented May 25, 2017 at 22:00
  • @Jacinto: Thanks, I added an example sentence at the end.
    – Matt
    Commented May 29, 2017 at 10:00
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    @HemiPoweredDrone I like that and think that coining "declaring an armistice" or "stalemate" is very close to what OP is asking about. An important facet, though, is the way the speaker tries to run forward into No Man's Land and grab a few more illegitimate yards of land before signing the treaty, though.
    – lly
    Commented Jun 9, 2017 at 5:45

7 Answers 7


Expanding on my original answer as I think there are several phrases which describe this, though none (other than my suggested neologism) is fully adequate. My general feeling is that this is not well described as a being a fallacy but is more of a (fairly ineffective) debating tactic or gambit. It's certainly common, as it indicated by this amusing article about The Last Word.

Of the options I've found, I think the most relevant are:

Special Pleading

I'd say that what the speaker is doing is special pleading, as they are saying that they should be allowed to put their point across but others shouldn't have the right of reply. Special pleading fills your blank nicely, though it admittedly doesn't fully describe the practice in question.

Suppression of Evidence / One-Sided Argument

By preventing further discussion, or attempting to, the speaker is seeking to limit attention to only considerations favourable to their own position. This may introduce a bias in the evidence available to those party to the discussion. It is an attempt to create a one sided-argument. See the Wikipedia entry on Cherry Picking

Appeal to Censorship

I doubt this needs explaining, one source defines this as follows:

Appeal to censorship occurs when dissenting ideas are removed or silenced in order to make a statement appear unanswered, and thus more probably true. The idea comes down to "I'm correct because nobody else disagrees (because I removed [or prevented] all dissent)". RationalWiki


It's such a common phenomenon, it deserves a label of it's own. I doubt I'm the first person to use the phrase, but I couldn't find any examples online ... I suggest: Last-wordism

Not quite what you're after, but they are also attempting to convert their argument into a coup de grâce, Which Mirriam-Webster defines as:

  • 1: a deathblow or death shot administered to end the suffering of one mortally wounded
  • 2: a decisive finishing blow, act, or event - The decision to cut funding is the coup de grâce to the governor's proposal.
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    Special pleading is spot on and you should really limit your answer to that. A coup de grâce, like a conversation ender in Mr Baskin's answer, is something that actually does finish something off. As OP notes, this rhetorical gambit is very seldom actually effective at securing compliance.
    – lly
    Commented Jun 9, 2017 at 5:38
  • Point taken @lly, I've reversed the two parts of my answer to reflect that. Commented Jun 9, 2017 at 7:29
  • I've expanded my original answer with some further options. Commented Jun 10, 2017 at 8:10
  • @lly Wikipedia's examples and definitions of special pleading (including many in the "References" section) do not mention attempting to close the discussion, nor do they mention re-stating one's case. It may well be a case of special pleading, but that term does not seem to indicate this tactic in particular.
    – Matt
    Commented Oct 16, 2019 at 17:07
  • I am accepting this answer especially for the suggestion of "last-wordism". This seems to refer specifically to attempting to have the last word in an argument, and thus covers both the restatement of the case (saying the words) and the appeal for the argument to end (trying make those words be the last ones). It doesn't seem to convey that the argument has gone on too long already, or that the attempted last words provide no new arguments. Still, it seems to be the closest fit. And yes, future usage could associate it even more with this context.
    – Matt
    Commented Oct 16, 2019 at 17:48

The OP is correct in describing this tactic as an example of "needing to get the last word". It does not provide any additional value to an argument but awards the person the satisfaction of not having to hear a rebuttal. This is inevitably awarded to one party in an "argumentum ad nauseam", but does not add or diminish either side of the argument.

However, claiming victory in an argument based on having the last word, classifies the position as an "argument from ignorance".

argument from ignorance: Assuming that a claim is true because it has not been or cannot be proven false, or vice versa

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – tchrist
    Commented Jun 17, 2017 at 21:14

But really, let's stop arguing about this is an example of pathos (appeal to emotion). The emotion being appealed to is empathy. An argument should emphasize reason. Whenever you accept a claim based on how it makes you feel without fully analyzing the rationale behind the claim, you are acting on pathos.

"The post quoted above in grey is a good example of Pathos."

Verbal nuking. You do not wish to continue the argument and so end it with a verbal nuke / final strike.

  • Hi, could you find some sources to support your answer? Commented May 26, 2017 at 13:35
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    dailycaller.com/2016/09/13/… Commented Jun 6, 2017 at 11:21
  • DV - this is not a legitimate term, it is a metaphor, or it is colloquial at best. Commented Jun 7, 2017 at 16:25
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    I don't think it's fair to complain that it's "illegitimate" just because it's informal and new or because you dislike the source provided. This phrase would sound perfectly clear in an American-English conversation. That said, I don't believe it fits OP's question. It's a hyperbolic form of Mr Baskin's conversation ender or Mr Lovell's coup de grâce and describes something that the user feels is impossible to continue to argue or speak against; the OP's request concerns something rather different.
    – lly
    Commented Jun 9, 2017 at 5:42
  • @lly Very postmodern acceptance, but I suppose it is an uncalled-for criticism. It's not as if I am an authority on the subject. Thank you for the comment. Commented Jun 11, 2017 at 2:43

The technique is very dismissive. Call it a conversation ender:

A word, phrase or emoticon that abruptly and awkwardly ends a conversation...

--Urban Dictionary

Also: English Stackexchange, where answers include kill a conversation, break off a conversation, and close down the conversation.

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    No, a conversation ender would be something that actually does end the conversation. As OP notes, the rhetorical technique of telling the other person to shut up now that the speaker has had the last word is very seldom effective at securing compliance.
    – lly
    Commented Jun 9, 2017 at 5:35

It is similar to the concept of "declaring victory," which is what happens when a party states unilaterally that a conflict is over despite any real evidence that it is.


If the author of the “Post #51” at issue is in a position of authority over other forum members then I’d agree that such language is clearly designed to close the discussion after having “had the last word,” for it has been my experience that when bosses/parents/etc. use “I will just say [this] one last time” followed by a “suggestion” using “But really, let's …,” they are relying on their position of authority to expect that their “last word” and their “suggestion” are to be interpreted as the order of the day.

Directed to peers, however (and the mention of “the manager” might indicate that the poster is “merely” a peer), such language could be seen solely as an attempt by the poster to reiterate his/her position one final time, followed by a genuine suggestion/plea/offer to move on [to more important matters] by “agreeing to disagree/differ.”
(“resolution of a conflict (usually a debate or quarrel) whereby all parties tolerate but do not accept the opposing position(s). It generally occurs when all sides recognise that further conflict would be unnecessary, ineffective or otherwise undesirable” from Wikipedia)

Granted, “But really, let's stop arguing about this” is perhaps a bit more “in your face” (or at least less of a cliché) than “But really, let's just agree to disagree/differ,” but I don’t see them at all as being inconsistent with/mutually exclusive of each other and I can easily see the two notions combined (i.e, “But really, let's stop arguing about this and agree to disagree/differ”), where the poster is simply offering/suggesting (but not demanding/declaring) a kind of “Modus Vivendi” truce or “[re]solution.”

If there is any validity to this interpretation, I’d characterize this tactic as being somewhat similar to the “thought-terminating cliché” mentioned by the OP, but only somewhat in that the poster is not necessarily interested in stifling further “thought,” but merely stopping (perhaps just postponing) a non-productive/ineffective, going-nowhere argument.

  • I like your answer. "Agree to disagree" is definitely a much more cordial way to end a discussion that will not be resolved. But I would point to the comment, "it is clear at this point that the manager was 100% correct in her assessment," to say that the person speaking is not willing to concede anything for the sake of civility. There is no acknowledgment to the validity of the other person's argument (or at the very least consideration for how someone can hold a different opinion) when the speaker say "clearly" and "100%". Commented Jun 11, 2017 at 2:37
  • @PV22 Good point but [imo] a final restatement of one’s hardfast position (& isn't someone’s “position,” hardfast or otherwise, just an opinion, even when it’s not tempered w/“imo”?) is consistent w/and perhaps even required by a simultaneous plea to agree to disagree. The poster’s use of “But really,” instead of “So or Therefore really” also tempts me to see this as a genuine effort to convince others that an impasse exists. (But = “In spite of these facts, I’m ready to agree to differ” whereas So/therefore= “In light of these facts, you should be ready to agree with me.”
    – Papa Poule
    Commented Jun 11, 2017 at 15:40

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