prima facie

1 of 2


pri·​ma fa·​cie ˌprī-mə-ˈfā-shə How to pronounce prima facie (audio)
 also  -shē-ˌē,
: at first view : on the first appearance

prima facie

2 of 2


: true, valid, or sufficient at first impression : apparent
the theory … gives a prima facie solutionR. J. Butler
: legally sufficient to establish a fact or a case unless disproved
prima facie evidence

Examples of prima facie in a Sentence

Adjective a prima facie case of tax fraud There is strong prima facie evidence that she committed perjury.
Recent Examples on the Web
Two states, Maine and Maryland, have both: more than 25 miles per hour establishes prima facie evidence against the driver, and more than 35 is categorically prohibited. Mark Fischetti, Scientific American, 1 Jan. 2024 In all other states, the driver has to read the book to discover whether the speed limit is absolute or prima facie. Mark Fischetti, Scientific American, 1 Jan. 2024 Yet prima facie, the agreement is much more like a corporate loan than a Project Loan. Ann Rutledge, Forbes, 13 Aug. 2023 While the order appears defensible on national-security grounds prima facie, closer scrutiny reveals trouble spots. Jonathan Nicastro, National Review, 11 Aug. 2023 According to case law interpreting article 107 of the Treaty for the Functioning of the European Union, member state tax measures that derogate from the reference tax system by favoring one or more businesses over others are prima facie selective. Ryan Finley, Forbes, 17 July 2023 The abandonment of that structure in the play’s final third is likewise precise, and many will value the disruption prima facie — at first glance. Jesse Green, New York Times, 23 Apr. 2023
According to the Alabama Department of Labor, the law also states that the presence of any person under 18 years of age in any restricted business establishment or restricted occupation shall be prima facie evidence of employment. William Thornton |, al, 25 July 2022 Misra acknowledged the prima facie merits of the medical board’s allegations in both cases but did not deny or admit liability, according to his stipulated settlements. Los Angeles Times, 14 July 2021 However, no established bright line exists for when statistical evidence is sufficient to constitute a prima facie case of disparate impact. Eric Bachman, Forbes, 25 May 2021 The disclosures already in the public arena make a prima facie case that the intelligence agency most responsible for meddling in U.S. politics was our own. WSJ, 10 Jan. 2023 There is a strong prima facie case that raw scientific data should be made freely available. Neuroskeptic, Discover Magazine, 16 Aug. 2016 Moreover, Woodbury views the renaming of Dixie State University to Utah Tech University as prima facie evidence that cancel culture is taking root in St. George. Mark Eddington, The Salt Lake Tribune, 10 Oct. 2022 Many unsuccessful Black head coach candidates will probably meet this initial (prima facie) case of discrimination. Eric Bachman, Forbes, 26 Jan. 2022 While most states follow absolute speeding limits, some have presumed or prima facie speeding limits, according to a database created by Massachusetts Institute of Technology software engineer John Carr. Ana Faguy, USA TODAY, 14 Apr. 2022

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

Word History



Middle English, borrowed from Latin prīmā faciē, from prīmā, ablative singular feminine of prīmus "first, foremost" + faciē, ablative singular of faciēs "appearance, sight" — more at prime entry 2, face entry 1


derivative of prima facie entry 1

First Known Use


circa 1500, in the meaning defined above


1790, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of prima facie was circa 1500

Dictionary Entries Near prima facie

Cite this Entry

“Prima facie.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 May. 2024.

Legal Definition

prima facie

1 of 2 adverb
pri·​ma fa·​cie ˈprī-mə-ˈfā-shə, -sē, -shē How to pronounce prima facie (audio)
: at first view : on first appearance absent other information or evidence
guidelines which would prima facie accredit new entrance examinations as nondiscriminatoryS. L. Lynch
compare ex facie

prima facie

2 of 2 adjective
: sufficient to establish a fact or case unless disproved
prima facie proof
a prima facie showing



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