it means to take someone's word for it when in doubt ... translated word for word it's like this: you don't necessarily believe the person but you've got two choices: either you accept what they're saying or you discard it. which choice benefits the person? get it now?
1 year ago
Last edited at 11:47PM on 1/30/2012
Benefit of the doubt= I don't know, so I won't think the worst.
When judging some thing like, "Did this ******** just bump into me on purpose?" It is better to just act as if they did not. Hence, giving the person the benefit of the doubt.
It's not about believing a person's words. It's about not making more of a situation than the situation calls for. If someone stabbed your cat you wouldn't use the phrase, regardless of the events that followed.
"In the absence of evidence, I will conclude that intentions were for the best." - another way to look at the phrase. Fair tidings.