affidavit

noun
af·​fi·​da·​vit | \ ˌa-fə-ˈdā-vət How to pronounce affidavit (audio) \

Definition of affidavit

: a sworn statement in writing made especially under oath or on affirmation (see affirmation sense 2) before an authorized magistrate or officer The witness's affidavit was presented to the court as evidence.

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Promises, Promises: The History of Affidavit, Affiance, & Fiancé

Affidavit refers to a written promise, and its Latin roots connect it to another kind of promise in English. It comes from a past tense form of the Latin verb affidare, meaning “to pledge”; in Latin, affidavit translates to “he or she has made a pledge.”

Affidare is also the root of affiance, an archaic English noun meaning “trust, faith, confidence,” “marriage contract or promise,” or a meaning that has completely fallen from use, “close or intimate relationship.” More familiar to modern English speakers is the verb affiance, meaning “to promise in marriage” or “to betroth.” It usually appears as a fancy-sounding participial adjective:

I like to give affianced friends a copy of Rebecca Mead’s book “One Perfect Day,” which exposes the ridiculous wedding industry.
—Mollie Hemingway, The Federalist, 7 October 2014

Affiance came through French to English in the 14th century, and, nearly 500 years later, the related French words fiancé and fiancée were added to English. Etymologically speaking, a fiancé or fiancée is a “promised one.”

Did You Know?

In Latin, affidavit means "he (she) has sworn an oath", and an affidavit is always a sworn written document. If it contains a lie, the person making it may be prosecuted. Affidavits are often used in court when it isn't possible for someone to appear in person. Police officers must usually file an affidavit with a judge to get a search warrant. Affidavits (unlike similar signed statements called depositions) are usually made without an opposing lawyer being present and able to ask questions.

Examples of affidavit in a Sentence

We have a signed affidavit stating that the two men were seen entering the building.

Recent Examples on the Web

In legal affidavits submitted by the W 58 Coalition as part of its petition to stop the city from opening the shelter in the old hotel, retired Fire Department Capt. Fox News, "'Billionaires' Row' New Yorkers continue fight against homeless shelter, accusing Mayor de Blasio of luring vulnerable into 'firetrap'," 6 June 2019 During the court proceedings, the prosecutors’ office argued that the court should follow the bail terms set forth by Judge Andrew Siegel, who signed the initial affidavit. Andrew Boryga, sun-sentinel.com, "Ex-school deputy Scot Peterson walks out of jail after judge reduces bond," 6 June 2019 The affidavit suggests robbery was the motive for the killing. Ken Ritter, Detroit Free Press, "Man held in Oakland County Jail named in death of ex-priest in Las Vegas," 5 June 2019 At the rally at Bolsa Chica State Beach in Huntington Beach, Rise Above Movement members confronted counter-protesters and attacked two journalists covering the event, according to an FBI affidavit. Hannah Fry, latimes.com, "Judge dismisses charges against members of California white nationalist group," 4 June 2019 Dowless was paid by the Harris campaign and was doing absentee work specifically, according to the Charlotte Observer and other affidavits sent to the state elections board. Dylan Scott, Vox, "More evidence piles up in North Carolina election fraud scandal," 26 Dec. 2018 The letter falsely indicated that no goods or services were exchanged for the donation, according to an FBI affidavit. Melissa Korn, WSJ, "Two Parents in College-Admissions Scheme Indicted on New Charge," 26 Mar. 2019 In the November 2 British Columbia court ruling, Justice Joyce DeWitt-Van Oosten cited a non-public affidavit written by a Canadian law enforcement officer, Corporal Todd Storozuk. Cyrus Farivar, Ars Technica, "Silk Road’s alleged hitman, “redandwhite,” arrested in Vancouver," 21 Nov. 2018 Jason Roche, 41, was apparently upset that 19-year-old Devonte Ortiz was setting off fireworks with his friends at their apartment complex, according to a copy of an arrest affidavit provided to The Washington Post. Amy B Wang, chicagotribune.com, "Man confronted teenage neighbor over fireworks — then shot him to death, police say," 7 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'affidavit.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of affidavit

1515, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for affidavit

borrowed from Medieval Latin affīdāvit "he/she has made a pledge," third person singular perfect indicative active of affīdāre — more at affiance entry 1

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Statistics for affidavit

Last Updated

11 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for affidavit

The first known use of affidavit was in 1515

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More Definitions for affidavit

affidavit

noun

English Language Learners Definition of affidavit

law : a written report which is signed by a person who promises that the information is true

affidavit

noun
af·​fi·​da·​vit | \ ˌa-fə-ˈdā-vət How to pronounce affidavit (audio) \

Kids Definition of affidavit

: a written statement signed by a person who swears that the information is true

affidavit

noun
af·​fi·​da·​vit | \ ˌa-fə-ˈdā-vət How to pronounce affidavit (audio) \

Legal Definition of affidavit

: a sworn statement in writing made especially under oath or on affirmation before an authorized magistrate or officer — compare deposition, examination

History and Etymology for affidavit

Medieval Latin, he/she has pledged faith, third singular perfect of affidare — see affiant

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More from Merriam-Webster on affidavit

Spanish Central: Translation of affidavit

Nglish: Translation of affidavit for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of affidavit for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about affidavit

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