Smoking gun

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For other uses of "smoking gun", see Smoking gun (disambiguation).

The term "smoking gun" was originally, and is still primarily, a reference to an object or fact that serves as conclusive evidence of a crime or similar act, just short of being caught in flagrante delicto. In addition to this, its meaning has evolved in uses completely unrelated to criminal activity: for example, scientific evidence that is highly suggestive in favor of a particular hypothesis is sometimes called smoking gun evidence. Its name originally came from the idea of finding a smoking (i.e., very recently fired) gun on the person of a suspect wanted for shooting someone, which in that situation would be nearly unshakable proof of having committed the crime. A piece of evidence that falls just short of being conclusive is sometimes referred to as a "smoldering gun."

Origin of phrase[edit]

The phrase originated in the Sherlock Holmes story, The Adventure of the Gloria Scott (1893).[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Safire, William (26 January 2003). "The Way We Live Now: On Language: Smoking Gun". The New York Times. Retrieved 2015-05-06.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)