How would one translate "argumentum ab invidia ductum" into English?

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    When a reform claims to bring about fairness and equality, when in fact it will destroy the best without improving the situation for those who are not able to have the best, then the argument may be 'driven by envy.' It is still fairly usual in logic and Law to use Latin. Cf 'ad hominem argument;' –
    – Hugh
    Feb 4, 2017 at 3:08
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    You have got a couple of downvotes in addition to some upvotes. I believe the negative feedback is due to lack of research. Have you tried translating the phrase yourself? Was something difficult or uncertain? I suggest taking a look at this guide for asking translation questions and editing your question.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Feb 4, 2017 at 22:13

2 Answers 2


An argūmentum is an argument: not in the sense of two people exchanging words, but a specific point that someone brings up during a debate. It can also mean the topic of a speech or the plot of a story.

Ab is "from", a convenient preposition. With a passive verb form like ductum it can also mean "by".

Invidiā is dislike aimed at a specific person, which can range from envy to prejudice to spite to hatred. In fact it's a distant ancestor of the English word "envy".

Finally, ductum modifies argūmentum (hence the matching endings), and means "led".

So the full meaning is "a logical argument which has been led by jealousy". For instance, if a politician suggests changing a law simply because they don't want their opponent to benefit from it, the suggestion would be an argūmentum ab invidiā ductum.

  • It's a minor point, but I think ab is better understood as meaning "from" in this case, since normally it's only personal agents that take ab in the meaning "by" (for entities that aren't persons the ablative by itself is used).
    – TKR
    Feb 5, 2017 at 3:23

It means "an argument derived from envy". It is a matter of taste whether you want to use "derived from", "due to", or something else.

Argumentum means an argument. Ab invidia means "from envy" or "by envy". The verb ducere means "to lead", and ductum is the passive perfect participle. You can see this in two ways: either the author leads their argument from the direction of envy, or the argument is led by envy itself (and envy is a grammatical agent). I see no real semantic difference between the two interpretations. See the linked dictionary entries for more detailed translations.

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