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

An affidavit filed in court alleged that a fired poll worker in 2016 — not 2018 — saw other workers fill out ballots shortly before Election Day. German Lopez, Vox, "The Florida voter fraud allegations, explained," 12 Nov. 2018 According to the station, the affidavit states that detectives spoke to one of Nicolas' friends who Nicolas had claimed had used the window in his bedroom as an entrance and exit before. Crimesider Staff, CBS News, "Texas teen, wife accused of hiring hitman to kill his jeweler father," 31 May 2018 The affidavit states Bills told others to put King inside the trunk of a white Lincoln. Hannah Leone, Aurora Beacon-News, "Aurora man pleads guilty to kidnapping, gets murder charge dropped," 17 Mar. 2018 According to the affidavit, Fabian apparently failed to mute his attached microphone. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, "A hot PlayStation mic captures sounds of apparent rape, leads to arrest," 27 Nov. 2018 Holmes was later questioned by police and the FBI and acknowledged robbing the bank, according to the affidavit. Tony Rizzo, kansascity, "KC man's alleged to do list: Wake up. Rob same bank for 2nd time. Go shoe shopping.," 10 July 2018 According to the affidavit, Dais pledged her allegiance to the Islamic State, also known by the acronym ISIS. John Diedrich, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Cudahy mother charged in terrorism plot to use Facebook to promote ISIS, FBI says," 13 June 2018 Gasoline was poured throughout the house, according to the affidavit. Everton Bailey Jr., OregonLive.com, "Man helped plan Clark County robbery that left his grandfather stabbed 15 times, records show," 12 June 2018 Authorities responded to a call about a woman transporting children in dog kennels and, while investigating at a house in Whitehaven, Cheeks drove up to the home, according to an affidavit of complaint. Lindsey Bever, Washington Post, "A grandmother made her grandchildren ride in dog kennels for half-hour drive, police say," 11 June 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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Last Updated

19 Feb 2019

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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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