Reference > Brewer’s Dictionary > Reductio ad Absurdum.

 Redmond O’Neale.Reduplicated or Ricochet Words, 
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E. Cobham Brewer 1810–1897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
 
Reductio ad Absurdum.
 
A proof of inference arising from the demonstration that every other hypothesis involves an absurdity. Thus, suppose I want to prove that the direct road from two given places is the shortest, I should say, “It must either be the shortest or not the shortest. If not the shortest, then some other road is the direct road; but there cannot be two shortest roads, therefore the direct road must be the shortest.”   1
 


 Redmond O’Neale.Reduplicated or Ricochet Words, 

 
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