Definition of elenchus in English:



  • 1A logical refutation.

    1. 1.1[mass noun]The Socratic method of eliciting truth by question and answer, especially as used to refute an argument.
      • ‘On the other hand, Socrates's employment of the dialectical method, the so-called elenchus, aimed at considerably more than negative knowledge.’
      • ‘Still, confining the import of these two compositions to political commentary is limiting, just as it is limiting to contrast Plato the master of Socratic elenchus and Isocrates the master rhetorician.’
      • ‘By means of the procedure of question and answer which came to be known as the elenchus, Socrates refutes all those who claim to know what aret is by showing their views to be internally inconsistent.’
      • ‘Setting aside the opening elenchus which elicits Thrasymachus' conception of the real ruler, Socrates offers five arguments against Thrasymachus.’
      • ‘He is here following Socrates' method of the elenchus, where you propose a definition, but then throw it away if it is shown to be in some way imperfect.’


Mid 17th century (superseding late Middle English elench): via Latin from Greek elenkhos.