so·ri·tes (sə-rītēz, sô-) Logic
n. pl. sorites
1. An argument presenting a series of premises that can be analyzed as a chain of syllogisms, with each syllogism's major term forming the minor term of the next, until a final conclusion is attained. For example, a sorites might consist of the premises that some pets are snakes, that no snakes have fur, and that only furry things are cuddly, yielding the conclusion that not all pets are cuddly.
2. An argument exploiting the imprecision of everyday language to reach a paradoxical conclusion. The classic argument of this sort maintains that one grain of sand does not make a heap and that adding a single grain of sand to something that is not a heap does not make a heap, yielding the conclusion that no additional amount of sand can make a heap.
Of or relating to a sorites: a sorites paradox.
[Latin sōrītēs, from Greek sōreitēs, from sōros, heap; see teuə- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2019 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.