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argue

Printable Version Pronunciation: ahr-gyu Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb

Meaning: To debate by reasoning, to give logically connected evidence for or against a proposition.

Notes: When used intransitively, this verb must be followed by for, against, or that, as to argue for a more liberal policy, or ague that a more liberal policy is needed. Transitively, none of these is necessary, but "for" is implied, as in argue lowering prices. The noun associated with this verb is argument. The adjective, arguable, means "can be argued, doubtful".

In Play: Most dictionaries today allow the sense of "quarrel" for this word. I think we should distinguish the two: "Neither of them was listening to the other; they were quarreling angrily, not arguing." Quarrel is not a debate based on logic; it is an angry verbal contest. The winner of a quarrel is the person who yells the loudest the longest, the one who poses the greater threat. An argument is won by whoever has the better evidence woven into the better logic.

Word History: Today's Good Word comes from Old French arguer "to accuse, blame", the remains of Latin arguere "to make clear, make known". Latin inherited this word from a Proto-Indo-European word with the root arg- "to shine". The migration from "shine" to "shine light on" to "make clear", and on to "argue" is easy to follow. However, PIE languages made other words from arg-. We also see it in Latin argentum "silver" and in Argentina. Argentina was named for the legendary (and mythical) Sierra de la Plata "Silver Mountain", supposedly located in that country. (Now is inarguably the time to thank Ellen Adams for suggesting a part of one of my pet peeves: the confusion of today's Good Word with quarrel.)

Dr. Goodword, alphaDictionary.com

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