Probative is a term used in law to signify "tending to prove."Hill, Gerald N., and Kathleen T. Hill. "Probative Legal Definition of Probative." The Free Dictionnary by Farlex. July 2007. Farlex Inc. 2 July 2007 .] Probative evidence "seeks the truth". Generally in law, evidence that is not probative (prejudicial evidence), or doesn't prove anything, is inadmissible and may be stricken from the record "if objected to by opposing counsel." A balancing test may come in to the picture if the value of the evidence needs to be weighed versus its prejudicial nature.


Probative is an adjective with roots stemming from the word probate. It traces its origins to the word "prouwe", dated circa 1175, and to the old French word "prover", English word "".Harper, Douglas, "Online Etymology Dictionary". Search "Prove", Published 2001,, Accessed 2007-01-05.] The term "probative", according to American Heritage Dictionary, means "serving to test, try, or prove." [The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2003. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved. Republished by The Free Dictionnary by Farlex. July 2007. Farlex Inc. 2 July 2007 .] Although "probative" and "probate" are etymologically related, they are two distinct legal concepts.


:"This section primarily deals with Canada and may not represent a worldwide view."The Canadian judiciary system utilizes the term "probative" which also signifies “prove to be worthy.”The Queen v. Wray, [1971] S.C.R. 272, 1970 CanLII 2 (S.C.C.), 1970-06-26,, p.273, Accessed 2007-01-05]

Canadian History

In 1970 The Supreme Court of Canada was concerned with exclusionary discretion within the judicial system. In R. v. Wray the term “probative value” is used to explain that “judges in criminal cases do not have a discretion to exclude evidence because of how it was obtained.” [Paciocco, David M. & Stuesser, Lee. "The law of evidence." IRWIN Law Inc., Third Edition, 2002, p.30] The sole discretion to exclude evidence is based on the weighing of prejudical value and probative value. Where the material evidence is being considered for exclusion:Every day judges are faced to weigh the probative value versus the prejudicial impact. A part of this is symbolized by a weighing scale and represents justice.


ee also

*Value (law)

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • probative — pro·ba·tive / prō bə tiv/ adj 1: serving or tending to prove evidence of the use of an alias by a defendant is often probative of nothing Case & Comment compare prejudicial 2: of or relating to proof …   Law dictionary

  • Probative — Pro ba*tive, a. [L. probativus: cf. F. probatif.] Serving for trial or proof; probationary; as, probative judgments; probative evidence. South. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • probative — UK US /ˈprəʊbətɪv/ adjective LAW ► relating to information that proves something: »She had no first hand knowledge of any of the probative facts in the case …   Financial and business terms

  • probative — mid 15c., from L. probativus belonging to proof, from probatus (see PROBATE (Cf. probate)) …   Etymology dictionary

  • probative — [prō′bətôr΄ē, präb′ətôr΄ēprō′bə tiv, präb′ətiv] adj. [ME probatiffe < L probativus < probatus, pp.: see PROBE] 1. serving to test or try 2. providing proof or evidence: Also probatory [prō′bətôr΄ē, präb′ətôr΄ē] …   English World dictionary

  • probative — adjective Tending to prove a particular proposition or to persuade someone of the truth of an allegation. My grandfather in person organized the file with a surfeit of sworn testimonies and probative documents …   Wiktionary

  • probative — adjective Date: 15th century 1. serving to test or try ; exploratory 2. serving to prove ; substantiating …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • probative — probatively, adv. /proh beuh tiv, prob euh /, adj. 1. serving or designed for testing or trial. 2. affording proof or evidence. Also, probatory /proh beuh tawr ee, tohr ee/. [1425 75; late ME < MF probatif < L probativus of proof. See PROBATE,… …   Universalium

  • probative — pro·ba·tive || prəʊbÉ™tɪv adj. experimental, trial; serving as a test; serving as evidence, serving as proof …   English contemporary dictionary

  • probative — [ prəʊbətɪv] adjective chiefly Law providing proof or evidence. Origin ME: from L. probativus, from probat , probare (see prove) …   English new terms dictionary

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