Benefit of the doubt

The benefit of the doubt is an idiom that is been in use since the 1800s. We will examine the meaning of the common idiom the benefit of the doubt, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.

The benefit of the doubt is the mindset that someone will be considered truthful or innocent unless proven otherwise. If an equal amount of evidence exists that proves that someone is truthful but also proves him to be untruthful, to give someone the benefit of the doubt means to treat him as if he is being truthful. The expression is most often rendered as giving someone the benefit of the doubt. The expression the benefit of the doubt comes from the law; it stems from the philosophy of reasonable doubt that was first expounded in the 1700s. Reasonable doubt means the fair amount of certainty necessary to convict. When there is doubt, the defendant is given the benefit—the judge must be sure that the defendant is guilty, not just suspect that he is guilty. The idiom the benefit of the doubt came into figurative use in the 1800s.

Examples

But hey, there’s a chicken wing shortage right now, so we’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. (Phoenix New Times)

School boards are urging teachers to give primary school children the benefit of the doubt when deciding what sort of secondary school they should go to, because of the additional disadvantages generated by coronavirus and the lockdown. (Dutch News)

Does Joel Embiid receive the same benefit of the doubt as other MVP candidates on questionable foul calls? (Philadelphia Inquirer)

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