Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary


noun, sure·ty \ˈshu̇r(-ə)-tē\

Simple Definition of surety

  • law : money that you give as a guarantee that you will do what you are legally required to do (such as to appear in court)

  • law : someone who agrees to be legally responsible if another person fails to pay a debt or to perform a duty

  • : the state of being or feeling sure or certain

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of surety

plural sureties

  1. 1 :  the state of being sure: asa :  sure knowledge :  certaintyb :  confidence in manner or behavior :  assurance

  2. 2a :  a formal engagement (as a pledge) given for the fulfillment of an undertaking :  guaranteeb :  a basis of confidence or security

  3. 3 :  one who has become legally liable for the debt, default, or failure in duty of another

suretyship play \-ˌship\ noun

Examples of surety in a sentence

  1. As sureties, they will be liable in his place.

  2. <gave his surety that he would pay back the loan if his sister was unable to for any reason>

Origin of surety

Middle English seurte, from Anglo-French seurté, from Latin securitat-, securitas security, from securus

First Known Use: 14th century

Rhymes with surety

Law Dictionary


noun sure·ty \ˈshu̇r-ə-tē\

Legal Definition of surety

plural sureties

  1. 1 :  a formal engagement (as a pledge) given for the fulfillment of an undertaking

  2. 2 :  one (as an accommodation party) who promises to answer for the debt or default of another

Additional Notes on surety

At common law a surety is distinguished from a guarantor by being immediately liable as opposed to becoming liable only upon default of the principal. Under the Uniform Commercial Code, however, a surety includes a guarantor, and the two terms are generally interchangeable.

Origin of surety

Anglo-French seurté, literally, guarantee, security, from Old French, from Latin securitat- securitas, from securus secure

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up surety? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


the range of perception or understanding

Get Word of the Day daily email!


Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!


Which of these is a synonym of nonplus?

disapprove reduce soothe perplex
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.