Definition of circumstantial in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˌsərkəmˈstan(t)SH(ə)l/


1(Of evidence or a legal case) pointing indirectly toward someone’s guilt but not conclusively proving it.
Example sentences
  • Intent can, of course, always be proved through circumstantial evidence.
  • As in national law, in international criminal law a culpable state of mind is normally proved in court by circumstantial evidence.
  • It would be open to a jury to find that those facts are some circumstantial evidence which supports the Crown's case.
indirect, inferred, deduced, conjectural;
inconclusive, unprovable
2(Of a description) containing full details: the picture was circumstantial and therefore convincing
More example sentences
  • As it is not properly a term of the British marine, a more circumstantial account of it might be considered foreign to our plan.
  • Her circumstantial account was accepted by thousands who had hitherto remained sceptical.
  • Sure, I can imagine some of the circumstantial detail that would make the story sound more immediate.
detailed, particularized, comprehensive, thorough, exhaustive;
explicit, specific



Pronunciation: /ˌsərkəmˌstan(t)SHēˈalədē/
Example sentences
  • The concept of ‘worldliness’ for Said was a profound understanding of circumstantiality and the role of what Marx refers to as ‘sensuous’ human activity in interpretation.
  • He adds that ‘A rhetorical education reminds us of the inevitable circumstantiality of all human judgment, but shows us how we can control and offset that circumstantiality.’
  • His circumstantiality sometimes has the powerful effect so often remarked in the descriptions of Defoe.


Example sentences
  • ‘You can prove the case circumstantially,’ she said.
  • The circumstantially imposed corrections refer to the discursive move toward offering impartial, even detached, moral judgment.
  • In order to be able to convict him, they're going to be able to tie him, circumstantially or through direct evidence, to the deaths of these individuals.


Late 16th century: from Latin circumstantia (see circumstance) + -al.

Words that rhyme with circumstantial

financial, substantial

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: cir·cum·stan·tial

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