I read a definition of "sarcastic interrogatives" at this link which was:

stock questions with glaringly obvious yes or no answers.

Now, most of the dictionaries define stock, as an adjective, as

(of an excuse or answer) often used because of being convenient and therefore being unoriginal.

And also, the word "stock", in most of the examples that I read, was modifying an answer, not a question. A "stock question" would imply that it is often asked whenever it is convenient which is not basically what the author wanted to say, although what author wanted to say was clear from the context. Am I right?


Merriam-Webster gives this as definition 1b of "stock" (adjective):

"commonly used or brought forward". That dictionary doesn't limit its usage to any particular topic.

Probably answers and excuses are things that are things often "kept in stock". Indeed, Merriam-Webster's example is about a "stock answer".

But applied to a question, "stock" is understandable and makes sense to me. A lawyer or press reporter might ask stock questions like, "Where did you grow up?" "Are you a resident of this county?" "How old are you?"

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  • You are pretty correct that a lawyer or reporter might ask you stock questions. But, one thing, if you read examples of sarcastic interrogatives at that link , like "Is pope Catholic?" then I think you might not call them stock questions. Please clarify. – kelvin Jul 25 '19 at 14:09
  • Oh, sorry, I hadn't looked up your reference. I wouldn't call "Is the Pope Catholic?" a stock question either. More like a "stock wisecrack." – Lorel C. Jul 25 '19 at 14:17
  • @kelvin It is a stock question regardless of its purpose; in this case it's used as an answer: i.e. A: Do you like ice cream? B: Is the Pope Catholic? (= the answer to the question Is the Pope Catholic? is the same as my answer to your question). You might argue that this wasn't originally a stock question that was then repurposed this way, or that it isn't normally used as a "real question" – and those things are true – but Is the Pope Catholic? is most definitely a stock reply; it's also a question, and the stock characteristic remains, which makes it a stock question. – user3395 Jul 25 '19 at 14:41
  • Bear in mind I'm playing fast and loose with the terms question and answer, and linguists might object to it, but most people (who don't really know/care) won't. – user3395 Jul 25 '19 at 15:02

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