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Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin opinion-, opinio, from opinari


  • 1 a : a view, judgment, or appraisal formed in the mind about a particular matter
b : approval, esteem
  • 2 a : belief stronger than impression and less strong than positive knowledge
b : a generally held view
b : the formal expression (as by a judge, court, or referee) of the legal reasons and principles upon which a legal decision is based
For lessons on the topic of Opinions, follow this link.


An opinion is a subjective statement or thought about an issue or topic, and is the result of emotion or interpretation of facts. An opinion may be supported by an argument, although people may draw opposing opinions from the same set of facts. Opinions rarely change without new arguments being presented. However, it can be reasoned that one opinion is better supported by the facts than another by analyzing the supporting arguments.

An opinion may be the result of a person's perspective, understanding, particular feelings, beliefs, and desires. In casual use, the term opinion may refer to unsubstantiated information, in contrast to knowledge and fact-based beliefs.


In economics, other social sciences and philosophy, analysis based on opinion is referred to as normative analysis (what ought to be), as opposed to positive analysis, which is based on scientific observation (what materially is or is experimentally demonstrable).

Historically, the distinction of demonstrated knowledge and opinion was articulated by Ancient Greek philosophers. Today Plato's analogy of the divided line is a well-known illustration of the distinction between knowledge and opinion, or knowledge and belief, in customary terminology of contemporary philosophy. Opinions can be persuasive, but only the assertions they are based on can be said to be true or false.

Collective and Professional Opinions

The public opinion is the aggregate of individual attitudes or beliefs held by the population. Public opinion can also be defined as the complex collection of opinions of many different people and the sum of all their views.

A Scientific opinion is any opinion formed via the scientific method, and so is necessarily evidence based. A scientific opinion which represents the formally-agreed consensus of a scientific body or establishment, often takes the form of a published position paper citing the research producing the Scientific evidence upon which the opinion is based. 'The Scientific Opinion' can be compared to 'the public opinion' and means the complex collection of the opinions of many different scientific organizations and entities, and also the opinions of scientists undertaking scientific research in the relevant field.

A Legal opinion or Closing Opinion is a type of professional opinion, usually contained in a formal legal opinion letter, given by an attorney to a client or a third party. Most legal opinions are given in connection with business transactions. The opinion expresses the attorney's professional judgment regarding the legal matters addressed. A legal opinion is not a guaranty that a court will reach any particular result. However, a mistaken or incomplete legal opinion may be grounds for a professional malpractice claim against the attorney, pursuant to which the attorney may be required to pay the claimant damages incurred as a result of relying on the faulty opinion.

A Judicial opinion or Opinion of the Court is an opinion of a judge or group of judges that accompanies and explains an order or ruling in a controversy before the court, laying out the rationale and legal principles the court relied on in reaching its decision. Judges in United States are usually required to provide a well-reasoned basis for their decisions and the contents of their judicial opinions may contain the grounds for appealing and reversing of their decision by a higher court.

An editorial opinion is the stated opinion of a newspaper or it's publisher, as conveyed on the editorial page.


  1. Damer, T. Edward (2008). Attacking Faulty Reasoning: A Practical Guide to Fallacy-free Arguments. Cengage Learning. pp. 14-15. ISBN 978-0495095064.
  2. American Bar Association Committee on Legal Opinions, Legal Opinion Principles, 53 Bus. Law. 831 (1998).
  3. O.S. Kerr, How to Read a Judicial Opinion: A Guide for New Law Students.

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