Paradox vs Fallacy - What's the difference?

paradox | fallacy |

As nouns the difference between paradox and fallacy

is that paradox is a self-contradictory statement, which can only be true if it is false, and vice versa while fallacy is deceptive or false appearance; deceitfulness; that which misleads the eye or the mind; deception.



  • A self-contradictory statement, which can only be true if it is false, and vice versa.
  • "This sentence is false" is a paradox .
  • * {{quote-book, 1962, Abraham Wolf, Textbook of Logic, page=255 citation
  • , passage=According to one version of an ancient paradox , an Athenian is supposed to say "I am a liar." It is then argued that if the statement is true, then he is telling the truth, and is therefore not a liar
  • A counterintuitive conclusion or outcome.
  • It is an interesting paradox that drinking a lot of water can often make you feel thirsty.
  • * 1983 May 21, (Ronald Reagan), "",
  • The most fundamental paradox is that if we're never to use force, we must be prepared to use it and to use it successfully.
  • A claim that two apparently contradictory ideas are true.(jump)
  • Not having a fashion is a fashion; that's a paradox .
  • * {{quote-book, 1879, , The Complete Plays of Gilbert and Sullivan], year_published=1941, chapter=[[w:The Pirates of Penzance, The Pirates of Penzance]
  • , passage=How quaint the ways of Paradox ! / At common sense she gaily mocks! / Though counting in the usual way years twenty-one I've been alive, / Yet reck'ning by my natal day, / Yet reck'ning by my natal day, / I am a little boy of five!}}
  • A person or thing having contradictory properties.
  • He is a paradox ; you would not expect him in that political party.
  • * {{quote-book, 1999, Virginia Henley, A Year and a Day citation
  • , passage=You are a paradox of bitch and angel.}}
  • An unanswerable question or difficult puzzle, particularly one which leads to a deeper truth.
  • * {{quote-book, 1994, James Joseph Pirkl, Transgenerational Design, page=3 citation
  • , passage=And only by dismantling our preconceptions of age can we be free to understand the paradox : How young are the old?}}
  • (obsolete) A statement which is difficult to believe, or which goes against general belief.
  • * {{quote-book, 1594, William Shakespeare, The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, section=
  • , passage=Ay, truly; for the power of beauty will sooner / transform honesty from what it is to a bawd than the / force of honesty can translate beauty into his / likeness: this was sometime a paradox , but now the / time gives it proof. }}
  • * 1615 , Ralph Hamor, A True Discourse of the Present State of Virginia , Richmond 1957, p. 3
  • they contended to make that Maxim'', that there is no faith to be held with Infidels, a meere and absurd ''Paradox [...].
  • (uncountable) The use of counterintuitive or contradictory statements (paradoxes) in speech or writing.
  • * {{quote-book, 1906, (Richard Holt Hutton), Brief Literary Criticisms, page=40 citation
  • , passage=The need for paradox is no doubt rooted deep in the very nature of the use we make of language. }}
  • (uncountable, philosophy) A state in which one is logically compelled to contradict oneself.
  • * {{quote-book, 1866, Edward Poste, Aristotle on Fallacies, Or, The Sophistici Elenchi, page=43 citation
  • , passage=Thus, like modern disputants, they aimed either to confute the respondent or to land him in paradox . }}
  • (uncountable, psychotherapy) The practice of giving instructions that are opposed to the therapist's actual intent, with the intention that the client will disobey or be unable to obey.(jump)
  • * {{quote-book, 1988, Martin Lakin, Ethical Issues in the Psychotherapies, page=103 citation
  • , passage=Defiance-based paradox is employed so that the family will actively oppose and deliberately sabotage the prescription. }}

    Usage notes

    * A statement which contradicts itself in this fashion is a paradox; two statements which contradict each other are an antinomy. * This use may be considered incorrect or inexact. ** {{quote-news, 1995, January 14, Ian Stewart, Paradox of the Spheres, New Scientist , passage=Banach and Tarski's theorem (commonly known as the Banach-Tarski paradox, though it is not a true paradox, being counterintuitive rather than self-contradictory) ** {{quote-book, 1998, , Encyclopedia of Applied Physics citation , passage=It is not a true paradox, merely highly nonintuitive behavior, if one accepts the realistic and local assumptions of EPR., i2=**:}} * This use may be considered incorrect or inexact. ** {{quote-book, 1917, George Crabb, Crabb's English Synonymes, chapter=ENIGMA, PARADOX, RIDDLE, edition=Centennial ed. , passage=An enigma, therefore, is not a paradox, but a paradox, not being intelligible, may seem like an enigma. , i2=**:}}


    * shocker (informal) * juxtaposition, contradiction * puzzle, quandary, riddle, enigma, koan * (jump) reverse psychology

    Derived terms

    * paradoxical * paradoxism * paradoxology * paradoxy * Achilles paradox * * Liar paradox * European paradox



  • Deceptive or false appearance; deceitfulness; that which misleads the eye or the mind; deception.
  • (logic) An argument, or apparent argument, which professes to be decisive of the matter at issue, while in reality it is not. A specious argument.
  • Derived terms

    * logical fallacy * formal fallacy * informal fallacy

    See also

    * sophism *