circumstantial evidence


Definition of circumstantial evidence

: evidence that tends to prove a fact by proving other events or circumstances which afford a basis for a reasonable inference of the occurrence of the fact at issue

Examples of circumstantial evidence in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Judges disagreed with the defense’s argument that Mr. Schellenberg wasn’t culpable if someone else placed the calls on his phone, siding with prosecutors who argued that circumstantial evidence showed Mr. Schellenberg was involved. Paul Vieira, WSJ, "Chinese Court Sentences Canadian National to Death for Drug Crimes in Retrial," 14 Jan. 2019 There’s at least some circumstantial evidence that Sen. Orrin Hatch, a Republican from Utah who has supported Kavanaugh throughout the Ford saga, was looped in. Zack Beauchamp, Vox, "Ed Whelan’s tweets have created a second Kavanaugh scandal," 21 Sep. 2018 Still, with a number of kings (including Edward II), there's enough circumstantial evidence for historians to reach something of a consensus. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "Beyond The Favourite: The Royal Family's Very Queer History," 22 Feb. 2019 And circumstantial evidence suggests that the system is likely to have vulnerabilities. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "Experts criticize West Virginia’s plan for smartphone voting," 7 Aug. 2018 All this is circumstantial evidence; more direct proof has been lacking until now. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Chocolate has an even earlier origin than we thought, new study finds," 29 Oct. 2018 According to longtime North Korea watcher Joseph Bermudez at 38North, satellite imagery (above) provides circumstantial evidence that the submarine and the floating barge used to test missiles have both recently gone to sea. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Is North Korea's Nuclear Missile Sub Ready to Set Sail?," 19 Dec. 2016 There was numerous pieces of circumstantial evidence. Paul Larosa, CBS News, "Search for missing Marine wife "like finding a needle in a thousand haystacks”," 12 June 2018 One more piece of circumstantial evidence that feels worth relaying: Kang saved par on the hole, shot 64 and earned an invitation to the British Open via his third-place finish. Daniel Rapaport,, "FORE Questions: More Rules Headaches, Predicting Ryder Cup Rosters and Grading Tiger's Comeback," 3 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'circumstantial evidence.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of circumstantial evidence

1736, in the meaning defined above

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Last Updated

9 May 2019

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The first known use of circumstantial evidence was in 1736

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More Definitions for circumstantial evidence

circumstantial evidence

Legal Definition of circumstantial evidence

see evidence

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to mark by some ceremony or observation

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