Definition of circumstantial in English:



  • 1(of evidence or a legal case) pointing indirectly toward someone's guilt but not conclusively proving it.

    • ‘It would be open to a jury to find that those facts are some circumstantial evidence which supports the Crown's case.’
    • ‘Intent can, of course, always be proved through circumstantial evidence.’
    • ‘In fact, contrary to popular opinion, circumstantial evidence is often extremely reliable.’
    • ‘All of the evidence is circumstantial and requires the drawing of inferences.’
    • ‘There is other circumstantial evidence that supports the suspicious nature of his initial entrance to those premises.’
    • ‘We've had a great deal of circumstantial evidence suggesting that indirect transmission occurs.’
    • ‘There was a substantial body of circumstantial evidence implicating the accused in addition to the informer's evidence.’
    • ‘As in national law, in international criminal law a culpable state of mind is normally proved in court by circumstantial evidence.’
    • ‘The forensic and circumstantial evidence as to the drink she had taken may be found at paragraphs 9 and 10.’
    • ‘Some States will attend sessions to defend against any circumstantial or uncorroborated evidence on their human rights situation.’
    • ‘If they only have circumstantial evidence, can they still conclude that a material breach has occurred?’
    • ‘There is very strong evidence of motive in a circumstantial case.’
    • ‘Nobody sees what happens, but there is other circumstantial evidence implicating him.’
    • ‘The prosecution case was left to the jury as a circumstantial case.’
    • ‘The circumstantial evidence all pointed towards cold as the precursor to death, but despite this the official inquiry gave drowning as the cause of death in every case.’
    • ‘No, it's not just a coincidence, it is circumstantial evidence of his guilt.’
    • ‘Yes, but no single piece of circumstantial evidence ever is completely probative of the ultimate fact.’
    • ‘Sometimes one has to rely on probabilities and on circumstantial evidence; which I always thought was less unreliable than oral evidence.’
    • ‘He submitted that that evidence provided a powerful circumstantial case of murder.’
    • ‘And it is clear from reading his evidence that his conclusion was firmly based on that medical and circumstantial evidence, as one would expect.’
    indirect, inferred, inferential, deduced, presumed, conjectural
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  • 2(of a description) containing full details.

    ‘the picture was circumstantial and therefore convincing’
    • ‘Her circumstantial account was accepted by thousands who had hitherto remained sceptical.’
    • ‘As it is not properly a term of the British marine, a more circumstantial account of it might be considered foreign to our plan.’
    • ‘He includes much by way of circumstantial detail without allowing his central narrative to become shapeless.’
    • ‘Sure, I can imagine some of the circumstantial detail that would make the story sound more immediate.’
    • ‘They do add bits of circumstantial detail, but the images are like glittery found objects glued to the surface of a sculpture.’
    detailed, particularized, particular, precise, minute, blow-by-blow
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Late 16th century: from Latin circumstantia (see circumstance) + -al.