What does the idiom "beg the question" mean?
You are wondering about the meaning of the phrase beg the question, maybe you heard it in a TV show, movie or theater play. Although this idiom is not used very often, it enriches your capacity of expression and strengthens communication. In which case is the expression beg the question used and what is its meaning?
Meaning of "beg the question"
The phrase "beg the question" is an idiomatic expression used to describe a logical fallacy in which an argument is assumed to be true without the need for proof or evidence. It is also used to indicate that one statement or premise is so closely related to another that it can be inferred from it, or that one statement or premise can be used to prove another. In less formal settings, the phrase is often used to describe a situation in which a speaker attempts to answer a question by restating it in a slightly different form.
The origin of the phrase “beg the question” can be traced back to the Latin phrase petitio principii. It literally means “requesting the first point,” and refers to the logical fallacy of making an assumption that the conclusion has already been proven. The phrase was first used in English during the 15th century to refer to an argument that begins by assuming the conclusion, and was widely used in philosophical texts during the 17th and 18th centuries.
Today, the idiom “beg the question” is often used in casual conversations to describe a situation in which a speaker attempts to answer their own question by simply restating it in a slightly different form. For example, if someone asks “What exactly do you mean?” and the responder replies, “What do you mean by ‘exactly’?” the responder is “begging the question” by attempting to answer their own inquiry without actually providing an answer.
- She was asking why she was wrong, but her question was just begging the question.
- His argument was begging the question since he was assuming his outcome was already true.
- When he asked what I meant by “expensive,” he was just begging the question.
Idioms with similar meanings in different languages
"Barking up the wrong tree" is an English idiom that means to pursue a mistaken or misguided course of action. In German, the similar idiom is "Auf dem Holzweg sein," which translates to "To be on the wrong track." This idiom emphasizes the idea that when you are pursuing the wrong course of action, you are not going to achieve your desired outcome.