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.”

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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