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concession (rhetoric)

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Definition:

An argumentative strategy by which a speaker or writer acknowledges the validity of an opponent's point. Verb: concede.

A concession, says Heinrich Lausberg, is either "a partial one--which may be made up for by one's own points, which carry more weight--or an ironical one" (Handbook of Literary Rhetoric, 1973; trans. 1998).

See also:

Etymology:

From the Latin, "to yield"

Examples and Observations:

  • "The audience gets the impression that the person capable of making frank confessions and generous concessions is not only a good person but a person so confident of the strength of his or her position that he or she can afford to concede points to the opposition."
    (Edward Corbett, Classical Rhetoric for the Modern Student. Oxford Univ. Press, 1999)


  • "It has been said that Rowcliff is handsome, and I'll concede that his six feet of meat is distributed well enough, but his face reminds me of a camel with a built-in sneer."
    (Rex Stout, Please Pass the Guilt, 1973)


  • "I am not finding fault with this use of our flag; for in order not to seem eccentric I have swung around, now, and joined the nation in the conviction that nothing can sully a flag. I was not properly reared, and had the illusion that a flag was a thing which must be sacredly guarded against shameful uses and unclean contacts, lest it suffer pollution; and so when it was sent out to the Philippines to float over a wanton war and a robbing expedition I supposed it was polluted, and in an ignorant moment I said so. But I stand corrected. I concede and acknowledge that it was only the government that sent it on such an errand that was polluted. Let us compromise on that. I am glad to have it that way. For our flag could not well stand pollution, never having been used to it, but it is different with the administration."
    (Mark Twain, 1902; quoted by Albert Bigelow Paine in Mark Twain: A Biography, 1912)


  • "I said earlier that the decadence of our language is probably curable. Those who deny this would argue, if they produced an argument at all, that language merely reflects existing social conditions, and that we cannot influence its development by any direct tinkering with words or constructions. So far as the general tone or spirit of language goes, this may be true, but it is not true in detail."
    (George Orwell, "Politics and the English Language")
Pronunciation: kon-SESH-un
Also Known As: concessio

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