damning/conclusive/decisive evidence

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arueng

Senior Member
CHINESE
The police have obtained damning evidence against the man thought to be the robber.


Hi,

I ran across the stand-alone sentence in the above from an English magzine for senior high kids here. I assume "damning" is equal to "conclusive and decisive" in meaning, but I'm not very certain. Is it? Thanks.
 
  • Egmont

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    Something can be conclusive and decisive without being damning.

    "The police have obtained conclusive/decisive evidence that the man thought to be the robber was innocent. Stamps on his passport, credit card charges with his signature, and the testimony of several eye-witnesses prove that he was in Singapore when the robbery was committed in Chicago."

    Damning, however, always means that it's bad for the person in question.
     

    arueng

    Senior Member
    CHINESE
    Thanks, Egmont.
    To make sure I've got it right, does "damning evidence" mean "the evidence that will convict/damn a suspect?"
     

    Egmont

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    ...To make sure I've got it right, does "damning evidence" mean "the evidence that will convict/damn a suspect?"
    In general, yes.

    There is, however, a slight difference. "Damning" evidence, or evidence that is thought to be damning before a trial, can be offset by other evidence or by a lawyer who minimizes its effect. If that happens, the evidence may have been correctly described as damning before the trial, but at the end of the day it may not be enough to convict the suspect.
     
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