AskDefine | Define hairsplitting

Dictionary Definition

hairsplitting adj : developed in excessively fine detail; "finespun distinctions" [syn: finespun] n : making too fine distinctions of little importance; "they didn't take his hairsplitting seriously" [syn: word-splitting]

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. The act of considering or arguing about fine details, or worrying about minutiae.

See also

Extensive Definition

Trivial objections (also referred to as hair-splitting, nothing but objections, barrage of objections and banal objections) is an informal logical fallacy where irrelevant and sometimes frivolous objections are made to divert the attention away from the topic that is being discussed. The word that best defines this type of argument is "quibble". Trivial objections are a special case of red herring.
The fallacy often appears when an argument is difficult to oppose. The person making a trivial objection may appear ready to accept the argument in question, but at the same time they will oppose it in many different ways. These objections can appear in the form of lists, hypotheticals, and even accusations.
Such objections themselves may be valid, but they fail to confront the main argument under consideration. Instead, the objection opposes a small, irrelevant part of the main argument. The fallacy is committed because of this diversion; it is fallacious to oppose a point on the basis of minor and incidental aspects, rather than responding to the main claim.
Amy: (after consulting a reliable source): It really looks like a cucumber is a fruit, not a vegetable.
Eric: You're an idiot! Why would you use 'really' in that sentence‽

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External links

hairsplitting in Hebrew: כשל התנגדויות זניחות

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

adverse criticism, animadversion, aspersion, bad notices, bad press, bickering, boggling, captious, captiousness, carping, cavil, caviling, censoriousness, chicane, chicanery, choplogic, contradistinction, critical, criticism, cynical, delicate, demarcation, differentiation, distinction, distinctiveness, distinguishment, division, dodging, equivocation, equivocatory, evasion, evasive, exception, faultfinding, fencing, finespun, flak, hairline, hedging, hit, home thrust, hostile criticism, hypercritical, hypercriticalness, hypercriticism, hypersensitive, hypersensitivity, imputation, knock, logic-chopping, microscopic distinction, morbid sensibility, morbidly sensitive, nagging, nice, nice distinction, niggle, niggling, nit, nit-picking, nuance, obloquy, overconscientious, overconscientiousness, overcritical, overcriticalness, overfastidious, overfastidiousness, overmeticulous, overmeticulousness, overnice, overniceness, overnicety, overparticular, overparticularity, overprecise, overrefined, overrefinement, overscrupulous, overscrupulousness, oversensitive, oversensitivity, oversqueamish, oversqueamishness, paltering, parrying, pestering, pettifoggery, pettifogging, petty, picayune, prevarication, priggishness, pussyfooting, quibble, quibbling, rap, refined, reflection, reproachfulness, segregation, separation, shade of difference, shifting, shuffling, sidestepping, slam, stricture, subterfuge, subtle, subtle distinction, swipe, taking exception, tergiversation, trichoschistic, trichoschistism, trifling, trivial, ultracritical
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