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[kazh-oo-ist] /ˈkæʒ u ɪst/
an oversubtle or disingenuous reasoner, especially in questions of morality.
a person who studies and resolves moral problems of judgment or conduct arising in specific situations.
Origin of casuist
1600-10; < Spanish casuista < Latin cāsu(s) case1 + -ista -ist Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for casuist
Historical Examples
  • In Spain, the great Jesuit casuist Escobar led the way, and rarely had been seen such exquisite hair-splitting.

  • "Pooh, she didn't—she only nodded—nodding isn't a lie," a casuist scoffed.

    The Story of Louie Oliver Onions
  • How would the casuist decide for so sweet, so big, so heroic a deception—or the attempt?

    Wild Life Near Home Dallas Lore Sharp
  • Except when it's a case of selling patent medicines, I'm not a casuist.

    A Prairie Courtship Harold Bindloss
  • As an introduction, I will state my story—the case for the casuist; and then say one word on the reason of the case.

  • Many others are put so as to suggest what the casuist never said, that is a special case is made a general rule of morals.

    The Jesuits, 1534-1921 Thomas J. Campbell
  • The shiftiest excuse would have brought solace to a breaking heart and conviction to a casuist brain.

    A Book of Scoundrels Charles Whibley
  • He was not a casuist, and, having no time for reflection, saw only one course open to him.

    The League of the Leopard Harold Bindloss
  • He modestly referred his friend to Dr. Barlow, as a far more able casuist, though not a more cordial friend.

  • I am no casuist, Milly, but I think that the impression a man makes by his character for resolution is always of consequence.

    A Rent In A Cloud Charles James Lever
British Dictionary definitions for casuist


a person, esp a theologian, who attempts to resolve moral dilemmas by the application of general rules and the careful distinction of special cases
a person who is oversubtle in his or her analysis of fine distinctions; sophist
Derived Forms
casuistic, casuistical, adjective
casuistically, adverb
Word Origin
C17: from French casuiste, from Spanish casuista, from Latin cāsuscase1
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for casuist

c.1600, "one who studies and resolves cases of conscience," from French casuiste (17c.) or Spanish casuista (the French word also might be from Spanish), Italian casista, all from Latin casus (see case (n.1)) in its Medieval Latin sense "case of conscience." Often since 17c. in a sinister or contemptuous sense. Related: Casuistic; casuistical; casuistically; casuistry.

Casuistry ... destroys, by distinctions and exceptions, all morality, and effaces the essential difference between right and wrong. [Bolingbroke, 1736]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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