cui bono


cui bo·​no ˈkwē-ˈbō-(ˌ)nō How to pronounce cui bono (audio)
: a principle that probable responsibility for an act or event lies with one having something to gain
: usefulness or utility as a principle in estimating the value of an act or policy

Examples of cui bono in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web One of the most important questions in an investigation is about establishing motive, summed up by the Latin phrase cui bono, or Who benefits? Garrett M. Graff, Wired, 9 Aug. 2022 The question to ask in a leak case is always, cui bono? The Editorial Board, WSJ, 3 May 2022 For the many who embrace climate change as a progressive cause, watch in the coming years for who benefits, cui bono. William Levin, National Review, 15 Dec. 2020 The question that underlies the nocturnal ritual fantasy is cui bono? Talia Lavin, The New Republic, 29 Sep. 2020

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'cui bono.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Latin, to whose advantage?

First Known Use

1604, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of cui bono was in 1604

Dictionary Entries Near cui bono

Cite this Entry

“Cui bono.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Dec. 2023.

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