Can anybody help me describe this phrase ? i don't understand what the author mean.


Zimmermann dreamed of changing the world. And he would. Only not quite in the way he intended. Indeed, there is a case to be made that Arthur Zimmermann was one of the most destructive individuals of the 20th century.

Source: History of the world by Andrew Marr - Episode 7


"There is a case to be made that" means, roughly, "One can argue that".

You can basically ignore it in this context without losing anything.

The verbal idiom "to make a case that/for" means to argue for a specific proposition or action. I know this because I am a native speaker.

I am not sure of the etymology, but this site suggests that it was used in legal contexts before non-legal contexts. It probably has its ultimate root in the Latin cadere, meaning "to fall" (as noted by @deadrat in the comment below).

  • 1
    The word case is interesting. It's actually two words -- one from the Latin capere (to take) meaning a container and one from the Latin cadere (to fall) meaning circumstances or matters under consideration. So "to make a case" is to justify the conclusion about some matter. If you've got the time, perhaps you could elaborate in your answer. In any case, I've upvoted for noting that it's an aside, essentially a hedge, that doesn't affect the meaning of the sentence. – deadrat Dec 29 '15 at 3:15
  • Thanks you! It's very wise, "There is a case to be made" = "There is a conclusion that" is very well fit for the situation. – Duy Dong Hoang Dec 29 '15 at 3:29

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