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

Director @DallasWoodhouse tells me Party will call for a new #nc09 election based on affidavit (submitted by NCDP) that early voting totals were run before Election Day. Dylan Scott, Vox, "North Carolina GOP admits a new House election is probably needed after election fraud scandal," 12 Dec. 2018 The bad news: Our current plots are about an affidavit, a business deal, two paroles, and two internships. Elizabeth Logan, Glamour, "Every Single Episode of Gossip Girl, Ranked," 19 Sep. 2018 According to the arrest affidavit, when one of the investors grew concerned over the lack of financial statements and other documents, Braun posed as the president of the South Dakota fishing farm company and made a home visit with Gonzalez. Erika Pesantes, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Bogus fish farm swindled investors out of nearly $500,000, authorities say," 3 July 2018 An affidavit obtained by the New York Times claims that Williams and an accomplice followed Onfroy into the motorcycle dealership less than an hour before murdering him. Michael Saponara, Billboard, "New Court Documents Reveal XXXTentacion's Killers Followed Him Into Motorcycle Dealership," 23 June 2018 The affidavit, dated Tuesday, makes no mention of what happened to XXXTentacion’s friend. Ben Sisario, New York Times, "XXXTentacion’s Killers Tracked Him as He Entered Motorcycle Dealership," 22 June 2018 According to an arrest affidavit, one parent said her son came home with bruises on his face and neck. Michelle Ewing, ajc, "Special education teacher accused of dragging, choking, punching students," 21 May 2018 According to the affidavit, Tomes lives in the unit below Gaeta, and Smith lives nearby. Everton Bailey Jr., OregonLive.com, "Newport man upset over noisy kids accused of shooting 2 neighbors with AK-47 rifle," 16 May 2018 The judge had been expected to hear arguments regarding motions from news outlets that have petitioned for the release of the search warrant affidavit, which is sealed. Madison Park, CNN, "Suspected Golden State Killer appears in court," 14 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

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Statistics for affidavit

Last Updated

16 Apr 2019

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 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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