Can anyone suggest a singular word or term, if one even exits, for a question that is non accusatory in nature. I know it’s a strange question so I’ll give very simple examples

Mom WHY DID YOU DO IT? If say for example the son broke a vase. This is a question but an accusation as well. It attributes blame.

As opposed to say

Mom Why did you do it? If she was asking her son why he worked out his maths question the way he did as opposed to a different way.


Police officer

Sir, where were you on the night of so and so. This appears to be a neutral question or an inquiry that doesn’t attribute an accusatory nature!

Is there a term or a singular word that denotes the difference. Would it be an insinuationary question or just an insinuation or inference?? or an interrogation or a neutral question.

A question that doesn’t denote blame or accusation. An inquiry perhaps

  • 1
    The question does not entail blame. The tone of voice does.
    – TimR
    Aug 1, 2018 at 21:00
  • correction: insinuating question.
    – Lambie
    Aug 1, 2018 at 21:41
  • @Tᴚoɯɐuo: What about those based on the complex-question fallacy? "When did you stop beating your wife?" No matter how mildly you put that, it is a question that assigns blame.
    – Robusto
    Aug 1, 2018 at 21:51
  • @Robusto: Righto. The question in OP's example I should have said. But I will fall back on the :)
    – TimR
    Aug 1, 2018 at 21:56

2 Answers 2


In the law, they call those loaded questions:

Why did you murder your husband? [Why did you break the vase?] versus Did you murder your husband? [Did you break the vase?]

The first question assumes there was a murder, the second does not and just asks if the person committed the act.

loaded question

  • 1
    I think they call them "leading" questions.
    – TimR
    Aug 1, 2018 at 21:56
  • No, those are different. You can go and see for yourself on Wikipedia like I did. The traditional example is the question "Have you stopped beating your wife?" Whether the respondent answers yes or no, he will admit to having a wife and having beaten her at some time in the past.
    – Lambie
    Aug 1, 2018 at 22:01
  • @Tᴚoɯɐuo as Lambie says (and I didn't know) these are indeed different. In the courtroom, at least, loaded questions are usually leading questions, but not vice-versa.
    – Andrew
    Aug 3, 2018 at 16:12
  • @Andrew I didn't know either until I looked it up. :)
    – Lambie
    Aug 3, 2018 at 16:26
  • By in the law, I thought Lambie was referring to the term of art. No lawyer would say "Objection, Your Honor. That's a loaded question." The lawyer would say, "Objection, Your Honor. The question assumes facts not in evidence."
    – TimR
    Aug 3, 2018 at 17:50

We speak of innocent questions and simple questions, to distinguish them from questions which "have an agenda" other than wanting to know something.

  • The main point is that a loaded question assumes an thing was done: Why did you kill your wife? (Why did you break the vase?) As opposed to: Did you kill your wife? (Did you break the vase?). The legal example is just a very famous example.
    – Lambie
    Aug 3, 2018 at 19:54

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