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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. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for casuist
Historical Examples
  • The names of two jesuits, the former a famous preacher, and the other as famous a casuist.

    Ebrietatis Encomium Boniface Oinophilus
  • Henry, however, was a casuist concerned exclusively with his own case.

    Henry VIII. A. F. Pollard
  • In all that comes between, every man must be his own casuist.

  • The best source, at least for Europeans, is still the casuist writings.

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

    The Story of Louie Oliver Onions
  • Except when it's a case of selling patent medicines, I'm not a casuist.

    A Prairie Courtship Harold Bindloss
  • Dear Mrs. Vivian, you are a casuist, and this is a nice case.

    Confidence Henry James
  • I wish to converse with you, Albert, only as a casuist; and upon a point of conscience which you alone can settle.

  • 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
  • Mr. Tallmadge's desire not to be interrupted in the act might have enlightened him as to its defensibility; but he was no casuist.

    The Open Question Elizabeth Robins
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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