affidavit

noun

af·​fi·​da·​vit ˌa-fə-ˈdā-vət How to pronounce affidavit (audio)
: 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.

Did you know?

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.

Example Sentences

We have a signed affidavit stating that the two men were seen entering the building.
Recent Examples on the Web Police also found a bloody knife in the bedroom, another bloody knife in a trash can and blood in the kitchen, according to an arrest warrant affidavit at the time. Mike Mavredakis, Hartford Courant, 8 Nov. 2022 Fingerprints matching both Coleman and Anderson were found within the contents of the suitcase, according to an arrest affidavit for Coleman, and the posts from their Facebook accounts were obtained after a search warrant was approved. Krista Johnson, USA TODAY, 28 Oct. 2022 Fingerprints matching both Coleman and Anderson were found within the contents of the suitcase, according to an arrest affidavit for Coleman, and the posts from their Facebook accounts were obtained after a search warrant was approved. Krista Johnson, The Courier-Journal, 27 Oct. 2022 Months before an Orlando chiropractor was arrested last week on charges of inappropriately touching a patient, another client had already reported a similar accusation to police in June, according to an arrest affidavit. Monivette Cordeiro, Orlando Sentinel, 11 Oct. 2022 Someone on the embassy staff had flagged down a Secret Service officer saying the man had entered the building, claimed ownership and was planning to change the locks, according to an arrest affidavit filed in court. Peter Hermann, Washington Post, 23 Sep. 2022 According to an arrest affidavit, Williams and an ex-girlfriend were at her apartment complex in Austin, Texas the evening of Aug. 14, 2020. Bradford Betz, Fox News, 13 July 2022 In spite of any possible errors, Judge Kennedy said, the affidavit’s remaining content was sufficient to establish probable cause. Ian Dille, Outside Online, 10 Nov. 2022 According to a probable cause affidavit, around 7 p.m., Garland County sheriff's Deputy Chandler Overton was dispatched to a residence in the 400 block of Pitchercane regarding shots fired. Steven Mross, Arkansas Online, 10 Nov. 2022 See More

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.

Word History

Etymology

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

First Known Use

1515, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of affidavit was in 1515

Dictionary Entries Near affidavit

Cite this Entry

“Affidavit.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/affidavit. Accessed 2 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition

affidavit

noun

af·​fi·​da·​vit ˌaf-ə-ˈdā-vət How to pronounce affidavit (audio)
: a sworn statement in writing

Legal Definition

affidavit

noun

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

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