Evident - evidential

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Evidential is NOT a more academic way of saying evident. Do not confuse the two.

  • The more everyday word is evident. It originally meant '[highly] visible', and is now most usually "Clear to the understanding or the judgement; obvious, plain" (OED).
The root is videre, Latin for 'to see'; evident is closely related to evidence, 'facts that support a belief', particularly in courts of law, or in academic work.
  • Evidential, on the other hand, means 'relating to [the nature of] evidence'. Up to the twentieth century, the word was largely restricted to Theology, and discussions of what evidence was suitable to prove such matters as the nature, or existence, of God. Now it is more common in matters of law, as what material is suitable to be regarded as proper evidence in a court.
    • Something which is self-evident is obvious in itself; something which - it is felt - does not need to be proved, as when the Founding Fathers of the United States began the Declaration of Independence with the sentence: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." It can be a dangerous assumption for a student to declare that something is self-evident, when, for example, a more philosophical tutor may ask "What is your foundation for this belief?"