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The phrase "I rest my case"

Posted by TheFallen on January 30, 2003

In Reply to: The phrase "I rest my case" posted by Jan-Erik Hagelund on January 30, 2003

: I think I have used the phrase "I rest my case" quite erronously. I tried to look it up in the phrase thesaurus, but could not find it. Does anyone know its origin and correct use?

: Jan-Erik

It's of legal origin, with "case" meaning argument or claim - as in the case against legalising soft drugs, for example. To this day in British courtrooms (and probably elsewhere in the English-speaking world), when the Prosecution (or the Defence) has finished calling all its witnesses and introducing into evidence all the items that it feels beneficial, its lawyer will tell the court that "the Prosecution rests". Of course the right of cross-examination of any witnesses introduced by the other side still remains.

To say "I rest my case" means therefore that, as far as you are concerned, you've done more than enough to prove your point, and need say no more. It's often used in an ironic manner, to highlight when someone inadvertently says something that supports the claim you are making, as in the follwing example:-

John: "You know your problem, Bill? You're far too quick to descend to insulting people who disagree with you."

Bill: "Don't be ridiculous! That's the sort of thing only a complete idiot would say."

John: "I rest my case..."