What is the difference between "suspicious" and "suspect"? Which option is correct, "The witness's claim was suspect." or "The witness's claim was suspicious."?


1 Answer 1


If there is any difference in meaning, it is subtle. My intuition is that "suspicious" emphasizes that the witness's character or motives are in question. "The claim is suspect" is a fairly idiomatic way to say that there is reason to doubt that it is true.

If I had reason to believe that somebody accidentally sent me incorrect information, but was not trying to mislead, I would probably say the information was "suspect", not "suspicious".

  • 1
    I agree your distinction. It's not really relevant to the marked shift over time between suspect / suspicious claims (we now just use a different word in that context, which hasn't changed), but in general, suspect has come to mean possibly not true / reliable / functional (for any reason, including none), with suspicious increasingly connoting deliberately dishonest / illegal activity. Nov 19, 2023 at 16:36

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