captious \KAP-shuss\ adjective1 : marked by an often ill-naturedinclination to stress faults and raiseobjections 2 : calculated to confuse, entrap, or entangle in argument
Befuddled by the captious question, the suspect broke down and confessed to the crime.
“During the past 15 years Mr. Maxwell has established himself as one of the few sui generis voices in experimental theater, and like all trulyoriginal talents, he has been subjectto varied and captiousinterpretations.” — Ben Brantley, New York Times, October 24, 2012
Did you know?
If you suspect that captious is a relative of capture and captivate, you’re right. All of those words are related to the Latin verb capere, which means “to take.” The directancestor of captious is captio, a Latinoffspring of capere, which literallymeans “a taking” but which was alsoused to mean “a deception” or “a sophistic argument.” Argumentslabeled “captious” are likely to capture you in a figurative sense; they often entrap through subtlydeceptive reasoning or trifling points. A captious individual is one who you might also dub “hypercritical,” the sort of carping, censorious critic onlytoo ready to point out minor faults or raise objections on trivial grounds.