smoking gun

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smoking gun

Indisputably incriminating evidence. Likened to a gun that is still smoking after having been fired. A smoking gun was revealed in the form of emails documenting the man's involvement in the money laundering scheme. So far the prosecutor has presented only circumstantial evidence, but she's expected to reveal a smoking gun against the defendant soon.
See also: gun, smoking

the smoking gun

Fig. the indisputable sign of guilt. (Fig. on a murderer being caught just after shooting the victim.) Mr. south was left holding the smoking gun. The chief of staff decided that the the aide should be found with the smoking gun.
See also: gun, smoking

smoking gun

Something that serves as indisputable evidence or proof, especially of a crime. For example, There is no smoking gun in the Oval Office; the President had no role in tampering with the evidence . This expression alludes to the smoke coming from a recently discharged firearm, a normal occurrence until the invention of smokeless powder. [Mid-1900s]
See also: gun, smoking

a smoking gun

COMMON If you talk about a smoking gun, you mean a piece of evidence which proves that a particular person is definitely responsible for a crime. The search for other kinds of evidence failed to produce a smoking gun. First of all, there's no smoking gun. In the course of our investigation we did not find a single piece of evidence.
See also: gun, smoking

a smoking gun (or pistol)

a piece of incontrovertible evidence.
This phrase draws on the assumption, a staple of detective fiction, that the person found with a recently fired gun must be the guilty party. The use of the phrase in the late 20th century was particularly associated with the Watergate scandal in the early 1970s involving the US President Richard Nixon . When one of the Watergate tapes revealed Nixon's wish to limit the FBI's role in the investigation, Barber B. Conable famously commented: ‘I guess we have found the smoking pistol, haven't we?’
1998 New Scientist This genetic smoking gun is evidence of a migration out of Asia that is hard to refute.
See also: gun, smoking

a/the ˌsmoking ˈgun

something that seems to prove that somebody has done something wrong or illegal: This memo could be the smoking gun that investigators have been looking for.
See also: gun, smoking

smoking gun

n. the indisputable sign of guilt. The chief of staff decided that the admiral should be found with the smoking gun.
See also: gun, smoking

smoking gun

Definite evidence of illegal or criminal activity. The term alludes to smoke emitted by a revolver or other kind of gun that has been fired, but it is also used more broadly for other kinds of malfeasance. For example, Time (Sept. 19, 1977) had it, “In fact there may be no ‘smoking gun’—no incontrovertible black-and-white evidence of wrongdoing by Lance.” The New York Times (Oct. 3, 2004) quoted National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, talking on CNN about aluminum tubes in Iraq suspected to be used for nuclear weapons, “We don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.”
See also: gun, smoking
References in periodicals archive ?
(A primary example of this is Exchange's own developer Microsoft, who did bother deleting the smoking gun emails that made them look like pirates in anti-trust court.)
Neither DiFranza's "smoking gun" nor the other studies provided any evidence about the impact of advertising on a teenager's propensity to smoke, which is the crux of the issue.
Another smoking gun surfaced in the candidates' debate: the terror-and-torture manual produced by the C.I.A.
We are back in the land of smoking guns, killer facts and don't call me a prat, you prat.
The letter and memo were smoking guns. Caught with them, Fisons quickly settled with the Pollocks for $6.9 million.
Take one of the smoking guns hired by the defense, the Honorable Professor Alan Dershowitz.
During the next year, Stern assembled several more pieces of evidence -- "smoking guns," he calls them -- for a myriad of Plutos.
Who is going to remind him then that it's a lack of smoking guns not smoking Bensons, that will make people spit out his name in 20 years' time?