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.”

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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 The girlfriend was driving Henning back to Indianapolis from her home in Richmond, Indiana, at the time, and the woman's two young daughters were in the car, investigators said in the affidavit. Lawrence Andrea, The Indianapolis Star, 11 Sep. 2021 Police wrote in the affidavit that that man, through Instagram, appeared to tell Lafayette about the woman in order to set up a robbery. Tom Steele, Dallas News, 9 Sep. 2021 Investigators reportedly say in the affidavit that the jeans and a drain bathroom at the home tested positive for blood. Gabrielle Chung,, 27 Aug. 2021 Iris Weddington's younger sister, Jacquelyn Sherman, in an affidavit to the court also said her sister and Conyers had a relationship and intended to marry in their 20s. Christine Macdonald, Detroit Free Press, 8 July 2021 Police also found a jacket and baseball cap at Mingledoff’s home that matched the clothing the shooter was wearing, the affidavit said. oregonlive, 25 Aug. 2021 Herrick was not home and troopers continued searching through the night, the affidavit said. Tess Williams, Anchorage Daily News, 25 Aug. 2021 But the officer found the husky dead inside a crate covered with a black blanket, the affidavit said. Monivette Cordeiro,, 18 Aug. 2021 Eaton eventually went to the man's house, hit him with a gun and took him and another woman back to the river, where Boltinghouse's body lay on shore, the affidavit said. Lawrence Andrea, The Indianapolis Star, 13 Aug. 2021

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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Time Traveler for affidavit

Time Traveler

The first known use of affidavit was in 1515

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Dictionary Entries Near affidavit



affidavit of merits

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Last Updated

15 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Affidavit.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Sep. 2021.

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More Definitions for affidavit



English Language Learners Definition of affidavit

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


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


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

More from Merriam-Webster on affidavit

Nglish: Translation of affidavit for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of affidavit for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about affidavit


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