Give Someone the Benefit of a Doubt

Also: Give Someone the Benefit of the Doubt

Meaning of Idiom ‘Give Someone the Benefit of a Doubt’

To give someone the benefit of a doubt is to assume they are telling the truth or they are innocent because you cannot be sure they are not; to decide to believe or trust someone until you have a reason not to believe or trust them; to decide to view someone in a favorable way unitl you know more about them. 1Kirkpatrick, Elizabeth M. The Wordsworth Dictionary of Idioms. Ware: Wordsworth, 1995.,2Heacock, Paul.  Cambridge Dictionary of American Idioms. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2010.,3Ammer, Christine.  American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.

Examples Of Use

“I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you are telling me the truth,” said the principal. “But I better not see you in my office again.”

“We are used to giving our politicians the benefit of the doubt. It is time we learned to pay more attention!”

“Tom said that he was not gambling again although people are saying that he is. I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt until I know for sure.”

Origin

Used since the mid-1800s.

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Sources   [ + ]

1. Kirkpatrick, Elizabeth M. The Wordsworth Dictionary of Idioms. Ware: Wordsworth, 1995.
2. Heacock, Paul.  Cambridge Dictionary of American Idioms. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2010.
3. Ammer, Christine.  American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.