What Does Cast Doubt on Someone Mean?

Cast Doubt on Someone Meaning

Definition: To make others doubt someone.

This expression can be used with doubt or doubts. Cast doubt on is used more than twice as often as cast doubts on in writing.

Origin of Cast Doubt on Someone

This expression originated in the 1700s, and it is unclear exactly how it came into use.

However, cast comes from the Old Norse word kasta. It can mean to throw or to spread over an area.

Doubt comes from the Latin dubius, which means uncertain. If someone throws uncertainty on someone, it means that he is throwing his own doubts onto that person for other to see, so that others feel the same way.

Examples of Cast Doubt on Someone

Define cast doubt onIn the first example, two friends are having a heated discussion. They are arguing about which friend to believe.

Marcus: I still think we shouldn’t pick sides. If Lisa and Chris are fighting, we should let them figure it out on their own.

Patsy: I don’t know how you can say that, especially since Chris is obviously lying.

Marcus: I understand why you would think that, but Chris has been my best friend for years, and I’ve never known her to lie about anything. So please don’t cast doubt on her for no reason. And please don’t try to make our other friends angry with her as well. She has enough to deal with.

Patsy: Okay, fine. If you say so.

Meaning of casting doubt on somethingIn the second example, a sister is talking to her brother. She wants him to realize that a popular celebrity is actually a liar and a terrible person.

Angela: Did you hear that news story about all the terrible things your favorite actor said and did?

Samson: No, but it doesn’t matter. Regardless of what the tabloids are saying, there’s no way it’s true.

Angela: It’s not just the tabloids. It’s respectable news sources. And he did some awful things.

Samson: You can try to cast doubt on him as much as you want, but I still have confidence in him. I’m sure all this nonsense will be cleared up soon.

Angela: There’s no evidence to suggest that.

More Examples

This excerpt is about how the press secretary for the president said the president might not watch an award ceremony for movies.

  • Spicer cast doubt on whether Trump would watch the Oscars, explaining that the president and first lady will already be busy Sunday. –LA Times

This excerpt is about those in charge of the National Football League. They want to move one team to a new location, but many people objected. This makes it questionable whether or not the decision will be made quickly.    

  • Though NFL owners had been expected to vote at their meeting in March on the Raiders’ relocating to Las Vegas, the chaotic 24 hours cast doubt on the likelihood of bringing the matter to a speedy resolution. –LA Times


Cast doubt on someone means to question the abilities or motives of a person.