affidavit

noun
af·​fi·​da·​vit | \ˌa-fə-ˈdā-vət \

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

The affidavit also said the girl joined her boyfriend in collecting gun casing shells and driving to another location to get rid of the weapon. Denise Garcia, Teen Vogue, "A Teen's Boyfriend Allegedly Killed Her Dad and She Allegedly Helped Him Cover It Up," 3 Oct. 2018 Bob Ferriere then heard his wife scream and turned to see Frink pointing a gun at her, according to an affidavit. Michael Casey, The Seattle Times, "Man enters insanity plea in killing of mom at hospital," 20 Nov. 2018 The duo then allegedly tried to stash the body in a bathroom under construction, covering him with towels and blankets, according to the affidavit. Denise Garcia, Teen Vogue, "A Teen's Boyfriend Allegedly Killed Her Dad and She Allegedly Helped Him Cover It Up," 3 Oct. 2018 Investigators discovered surveillance footage of two men approaching the victim’s home hours before the shooting, the affidavit states. PEOPLE.com, "Teen and Girlfriend Accused of Hiring Hitman to Kill His Dad — and Alleged Gunman Is Arrested," 12 July 2018 Another officer then noticed DeHaas had a knife in his hand, the affidavit states. Nicole Blanchard, idahostatesman, "Police: Idaho Senate candidate confronted officers with knife before his arrest," 10 July 2018 Why did Ben’s mom give the affidavit to Thorpe to use as leverage to get Bass Industries instead of taking it to the D.A. herself to exonerate Ben? Elizabeth Logan, Glamour, "Every Single Episode of Gossip Girl, Ranked," 19 Sep. 2018 Meekins acknowledged in an affidavit that the streamlined vetting approach will make reunions happen faster. Kristina Davis, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Trump administration outlines plan to reunify remaining 2,500 separated children," 14 July 2018 Police officers at the club said in an affidavit that Clifford pressed patrons’ faces into her chest and fondled the breasts of some women in the audience. BostonGlobe.com, "Charges dropped against Stormy Daniels in strip club arrest," 13 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

10 Dec 2018

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 \

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 \

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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