Definition of casuist in English:



  • 1A person who uses clever but unsound reasoning, especially in relation to moral questions; a sophist.

    • ‘My impression of him as a witness was that he was an inveterate casuist to say the least, and at times I was in wholehearted agreement with the claimant's representative's suggestions during cross examination that he was a stranger to the truth.’
    • ‘He is a first-class rationalizer, a casuist of rare accomplishment, and a truly gifted procrastinator.’
    pedant, precisionist, perfectionist, formalist, literalist, stickler, traditionalist, doctrinaire, quibbler, hair-splitter, dogmatist, sophist, fault-finder, caviller, carper, pettifogger
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  • 2A person who resolves moral problems by the application of theoretical rules.

    • ‘Yes, I don't totally think of myself as a casuist because those are people who are working with given rules, if you like.’
    • ‘This moral dilemma, again, is addressed specifically by the casuists.’
    • ‘The ‘caso’ of whether to inform the king when a family member has committed a crime is one that the Spanish casuists addressed specifically in the confessors' manuals.’
    • ‘Fenner excelled as a casuist examining cases of troubled conscience.’


Early 17th century: from French casuiste, from Spanish casuista, from Latin casus (see case).