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To make a case

Posted by Smokey Stover on July 23, 2006

In Reply to: To make a case posted by Mariya on July 23, 2006

: What is the meaning of the phrase "to make a case"? For example: "to make a case for approval"...

In forensics (debate), the case for something is the combination of arguments that support that something. This is also one of the meanings in a court of law, as in the case for acquittal or the case for conviction. The use of "case" for "body of arguments, or reasons" goes back (in print) to the 14th century. The phrase "make the case" I was unable to discover in a brief search of the Oxford English Dictionary (which would have given me a date of first use in print), although I found "make out a case," which means the same thing.

OED: " d. The case as presented or 'put' to the Court by one of the parties in a suit; hence, the sum of the grounds on which he rests his claim. Also fig. as in to make out one's case, a case.
[1375 BARBOUR Bruce I. 52 And othir sum nyt all that cass And said that he thair king suld be That war in als ner degre.]... MRS. C. CLARKE Shaks. Char. xvi. 391 Shakespeare has made out a strong case for Shylock....."

The use of "case" in this sense has carried over into ordinary English.

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