Said when the point under discussion hinges on the meaning of words and phrases:

  • If you look at the strict dictionary definition of the words I used, ignoring the common connotations that are familiar to any native speaker, I didn't say anything insulting.
  • I have a cheap paperback no-name dictionary right here, and what it says that word means is...
  • When I say {common term, used in dozens of messages in the thread} I don't mean {the common contextual meaning}, I mean {something entirely idiosyncratic}.
  • Just because X said all Ys are {something objectionable}, and you're a Y, doesn't mean X was talking about you.
  • When I said that {group to which you belong} are miserable stupid fucktards, why did you think I was talking about you?
  • You fail to understand that X intended you to read this a certain way, so it's completely immaterial that the actual text doesn't say that.
  • It's just rhetoric.
  • It's just semantics.
  • I was being ironic/sarcastic.

Said when the point in question is debatable, and in fact is being debated:

  • It's a moot (or mute) point.

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