7

For example, person A states something. Person B says "And pigs fly" to imply person A was wrong.

If there's no term for it, what could you call that that sounds smart?

  • It's called sarcasm. – Mark Oct 2 '11 at 7:19
3

This is diasyrmus, which, according to the Silva Rhetoricae definition is "[r]ejecting an argument through ridiculous comparison."

In this case the comparison is implied: person A's statement is as false or absurd as the notion of flying pigs.

  • The meaning of this word is spot-on, although it's so obscure I'm not sure how usable it would be in practice. – Boann Oct 8 '15 at 18:50
  • Well, you can use its obscurity to your advantage when searching for a remark that "sounds smart." :) – pilcrow Oct 8 '15 at 18:54
8

To a logician, your examples would be reductio ad absurdum. "If that's true, then I'm a Dutchman/the Queen" is both a well-attested phrase and a valid proposition, implying that whatever it is is false. Similarly, "And pigs fly" asserts the equivalency of what has just been said to a clearly absurd proposition. (Martin Gardner, in The Annotated Snark, traces the phrase to "an old Scottish saying, 'Pigs may fly, but it isn't likely'.")

  • Also called the absurd consequences move. – Barrie England Oct 2 '11 at 11:39
5

A general word for such a response is retort, before which you can use a relevant adjective if necessary.

You could call the above, for instance, a sarcastic or witty retort. (Though I think you'd have to do a bit better than "and pigs fly" to merit the word witty.)

Another option is riposte.

I should add that neither retorts nor ripostes need be "false" themselves. They do, however, highlight the falsity or absurdity of what was just said.

  • 1
    "O Sir, we quarrel in print, by the book, as you have books for good manners. I will name you the degrees. The first, the Retort Courteous; the second, the Quip Modest; the third, the Reply Churlish; the fourth, the Reproof Valiant; the fifth, the Countercheck Quarrelsome; the sixth, the Lie with Circumstance; the seventh, the Lie Direct." As You Like It V, 4 – Tim Lymington supports Monica Oct 5 '11 at 9:57

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