prima facie

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From Latin prīmā (first) faciē (shape, figure), literally “at the first appearance.”


  • IPA(key): /ˈpɹaɪmə ˈfeɪʃiː/, /-ʃə/


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prima facie (comparative more prima facie, superlative most prima facie)

  1. (law) At first sight; on the face of it.
    • 1871, Gail Hamilton, Gala-days (page 191)
      [] the nicest young man that ever was, — daintily gloved, patently booted, oilily curled, snowily wristbanded, with a lovely cambric (prima facie) handkerchief bound about his hyacinthine locks and polished hat.


prima facie (not comparable)

  1. (law) Apparently correct; not needing proof unless evidence to the contrary is shown.

Usage notes[edit]

In common usage, often used to mean that the conclusion is obvious. In more narrow legal usage, it means rather that there is a case to answer – that the question is clear, but the conclusion is not necessarily obvious – with an obvious conclusion rather being referred to as res ipsa loquitur (the thing speaks for itself). However, res ipsa loquitur is rarely used in common speech, instead referred to as an open and shut case. See prima facie: res ipsa loquitur and res ipsa loquitur: contrast to prima facie for details.