begs the question : Common Errors in English

begs the question

An argument that improperly assumes as true the very point the speaker is trying to argue for is said in formal logic to “beg the question.” Here is an example of a question-begging argument: “This painting is trash because it is obviously worthless.” The speaker is simply asserting the worthlessness of the work, not presenting any evidence to demonstrate that this is in fact the case. Since we never use “begs” with this odd meaning (“to improperly take for granted”) in any other phrase, most people now suppose the phrase implies something quite different: that the argument demands that a question about it be asked—raises the question. Although using the expression in its original sense is now rare, using it in the newer sense will cause irritation among traditionalists.

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