Benefit Of The Doubt

Meaning:

1. The phrase the benefit of the doubt means to believe someone even though you may feel skeptical about what they are saying.

Example: I returned to my car after shopping and I saw a long scratch on the passenger side door! I asked the only person nearby about it, but he shrugged and told me he didn’t do it, so I gave him the benefit of the doubt because I had no evidence saying otherwise.

2. To believe that a person is innocent and that the charges against them are false or inaccurate.

Example: I heard a rumor that Parker got into a fight with someone at work. However, that doesn’t sound like something he would do, so unless anything definitive comes out, I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt.

Synonyms / Similar Phrases:

1. Believe
2. Place or put trust/confidence in someone
3. Trust


What Is The Origin Of “Benefit Of The Doubt”?

The expression benefit of the doubt has been around since at least the 1820s. It was used in multiple newspapers during that time. For example, one of them was called The Australian, May 1827 and it reads:

“If the evidences examined against him are to be believed, then he is guilty of the offence; but if on the other hand you do not believe them, then the case is not proved, and you will give the prisoner the benefit of the doubt you entertain of the credibility of the witnesses.”

Another example shows up one year earlier and it is the earliest I could find of this phrase in print. This quote comes from The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser newspaper, April 1826:

“Inasmuch as they came forward disinterested, and that at any rate where it was only equal in point of number, the defendant by the benignant construction of British jurisprudence, was entitled to the benefit of the doubt.”

In summary, this common expression has been around for nearly 200 years.


Example Sentences

  • As I was looking at a used exercise bike, the seller kept emphasizing how the bike was in mint condition. While I was skeptical about buying it, I gave him the benefit of the doubt as everything looked to be in order.

Similar Examples:

  • She hasn’t lied to me before, so I will trust her on this.
  • What you are saying is hard to swallow, but I believe you.

Tip: There are tons more expressions on here! Browse through more phrases starting with “B” or go through our full list using the menu at the top. You’ll find plenty more to read about, so start exploring!


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