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"Just for the record" is an idiom in the English language used to indicate that a person is trying to clarify his ideas or his stance on a given issue to a group of listeners or readers. An idiom is a phrase with a figurative meaning that differs somewhat from the commonly accepted literal meaning. Literally, someone would use this phrase in order to get a given statement officially on a public record, such as might happen when someone is being interviewed by a reporter for a newspaper. People most commonly say it in normal conversation, however, when nothing that is said is actually being recorded for any public record.
The phrase is idiomatic because its commonly understood use has nothing to do with an actual public record. Generally speaking, someone might say that a comment is "just for the record" to make sure that his position about a particular topic is very clear, no matter what else he might say that could be taken to mean something different. The "record" is neither tangible nor accessible by "the public," but the saying still prompts people to take note of the speaker's actual opinions and ideas.
"More precisely, a person might say "just to set things straight," as it is most commonly applied in situations in which a speaker or writer feels the need to clarify or prevent a misconception or misunderstanding. There is no physical "record" involved in this usage. A lecturer who is presenting the philosophical arguments against free will, for instance, may tell this listeners "just for the record, I do believe in free will" in order to make it clear that the arguments he is presenting do not reflect his own beliefs.
Another common usage of the idiom involves clarifying a person's motivation for saying something or engaging in a particular action. The individual may use the idiom to point out that he is asking many aggressive questions not because he disagrees but because he does not understand. Alternately, someone may use it to explain why he did something that appeared particularly unintelligent. A person who shows up to work in soaking wet clothes, for instance, may justify his failure to take an umbrella by saying "for the record, the weatherman never said anything about rain today."