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

Ambroz wrote in one post, according to the affidavit. Becky Jacobs, Post-Tribune, "Dyer man accused of offering to buy underage girl on Twitter," 13 July 2018 Officers detained the group, the affidavit said, but Jacob Saucedo walked off the wall and began cursing at the officer. Ryan Tarinelli, The Seattle Times, "Mom says Texas officer choked boy before aiming gun at kids," 9 July 2018 Treviño asked that his lawyer be present before he was questioned, the affidavit said. Guillermo Contreras, San Antonio Express-News, "Lawyer and Chicano activist charged in San Antonio with transporting immigrants," 6 July 2018 Rivera also told police her girlfriend blamed the child for problems in the couple's relationship, the affidavit says. Crimesider Staff, CBS News, "Charges: Mom said she dumped boy's body in ocean when he died after head injury," 21 June 2018 Webster allegedly pulled out a handgun and shot at her multiple times before turning to fire at her sons Vaughn and the 8-year-old, who had also gotten out of the car, the affidavit reportedly said. Alexia Fernandez,, "Boy, 13, Killed & His Mother & Brother Left Fighting for Their Lives In Alleged Road Rage Shooting," 16 June 2018 The other two men came in after him and held Davis at gunpoint, the affidavit said. Everton Bailey Jr.,, "Man helped plan Clark County robbery that left his grandfather stabbed 15 times, records show," 12 June 2018 Thirteen people on the bus died from injuries suffered in the crash, an affidavit said. Crystal Hill, star-telegram, "Drugged driver killed 13 churchgoers in bus crash, police say. Now he's facing prison," 31 May 2018 The affidavit said the former employee had worked for Davis Manafort Partners and then Steam Mountain LLC, the other Manafort business. David Voreacos,, "Manafort Judge Questions Claim of Improper Records Seizure," 23 May 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

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

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Statistics for affidavit

Last Updated

17 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for affidavit

The first known use of affidavit was in 1515

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English Language Learners Definition of affidavit

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


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


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

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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 Encyclopedia article about affidavit

Comments on affidavit

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