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 The affidavit also says the attorney urged a witness to delete a report on the lab. John Caniglia, cleveland, "UH’s fight over former lab director’s scathing affidavit highlights issue of sealing corporate secrets," 17 Apr. 2021 Feuerstein was taken to Delray Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead, the affidavit says. Raja Razek And Dakin Andone, CNN, "Driver arrested in hit-and-run death of Sandra Feuerstein, New York federal judge," 11 Apr. 2021 Police believe Deleon shot his cousin while firing at the other people, the affidavit says. Tom Steele, Dallas News, "Man killed cousin while trying to shoot other people in north Oak Cliff, Dallas police say," 6 Apr. 2021 Yosef then reached into his waistband before officers tackled him, the affidavit says. Lawrence Andrea, The Indianapolis Star, "Man charged with attempted murder after downtown stabbing 'eviscerated' victim," 31 Mar. 2021 Instead, the man told investigators that Riser offered to pay him a total of $9,500 to kidnap and kill Douglas and later Saenz, the affidavit says. NBC News, "Dallas officer was kept on the job as he became the focus of a murder investigation," 6 Mar. 2021 Instead, the man told investigators that Riser offered to pay him a total of $9,500 to kidnap and kill Douglas and later Saenz, the affidavit says. Jamie Stengle, Chron, "Ex-chief: Dallas cop kept on job to not tip him off to probe," 5 Mar. 2021 The affidavit says Talavera confessed to being the person who shot Gemunu Gamarchchilage. Jacob Beltran, San Antonio Express-News, "Men accused in 2019 robbery, shooting at East Side store charged with capital murder after owner die," 2 Mar. 2021 Jennifer and her husband were having marital problems, the affidavit says. Kc Baker, PEOPLE.com, "Tx. Wife Who Pleaded on TV for Info About Husband's Killing Is Now Charged in Case," 25 Feb. 2021

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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Time Traveler for affidavit

Time Traveler

The first known use of affidavit was in 1515

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Statistics for affidavit

Last Updated

6 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Affidavit.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/affidavit. Accessed 9 May. 2021.

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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

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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