af·​firm ə-ˈfərm How to pronounce affirm (audio)
affirmed; affirming; affirms

transitive verb

: validate, confirm
He was affirmed as a candidate.
: to state positively
He affirmed his innocence.
: to assert (something, such as a judgment or decree) as valid or confirmed
The court affirmed his conviction.
: to show or express a strong belief in or dedication to (something, such as an important idea)
laws affirming the racial equality of all people

intransitive verb

: to testify or declare by affirmation (see affirmation sense 2) as distinguished from swearing an oath
: to uphold a judgment or decree of a lower court
affirmable adjective
affirmance noun
Choose the Right Synonym for affirm

assert, declare, affirm, protest, avow mean to state positively usually in anticipation of denial or objection.

assert implies stating confidently without need for proof or regard for evidence.

asserted that modern music is just noise

declare stresses open or public statement.

declared her support for the candidate

affirm implies conviction based on evidence, experience, or faith.

affirmed the existence of an afterlife

protest emphasizes affirming in the face of denial or doubt.

protested that he really had been misquoted

avow stresses frank declaration and acknowledgment of personal responsibility for what is declared.

avowed that all investors would be repaid in full

Example Sentences

We cannot affirm that this painting is genuine. They neither affirmed nor denied their guilt. laws affirming the racial equality of all peoples They continued to affirm their religious beliefs. The decision was affirmed by a higher court.
Recent Examples on the Web By asking some qualifying questions, teams can affirm that an issue exists and identify a path for remedying it. Nicolas Vandenberghe, Forbes, 27 Dec. 2022 Even though all state constitutions include a right to an education, the U.S. Constitution does not — although 170 other countries affirm that right in their constitutions. Annie Waldman, ProPublica, 23 Dec. 2022 And Paul knocked him down in the eighth and final round of their boxing match to affirm his victory. Lance Pugmire, USA TODAY, 31 Oct. 2022 Steve Whitehead, Kendell Stucki, Eric Schein, Lisa DeGifford and David Adams voted to affirm the revocation of the permit. Garrett Moore, Arkansas Online, 26 Dec. 2022 Ducey launched his own lawsuit against the federal government in October, seeking to affirm his right to build the wall. Armando Garcia, ABC News, 22 Dec. 2022 The regents voted 11-5 to affirm the Bruins’ move during a special meeting on the university's Westwood campus. San Francisco Chronicle, 14 Dec. 2022 Martinez's experience appears to affirm Merts and Brewster's belief that art can provide a safe space. Eva Rothenberg, CNN, 10 Dec. 2022 Further studies are likely to affirm these initial findings. Amber Smith, Discover Magazine, 9 Dec. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'affirm.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


alteration (conformed to Latin affirmāre) of Middle English affermen "to fix firmly, make steadfast, establish, confirm, assert," borrowed from Anglo-French afermer, affermer, going back to Latin affirmāre "to strengthen, confirm, assert positively," from ad- ad- + firmāre "to strengthen, fortify," derivative of firmus "strong, durable, firm entry 1"

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of affirm was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near affirm

Cite this Entry

“Affirm.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Jan. 2023.

Kids Definition


af·​firm ə-ˈfərm How to pronounce affirm (audio)
: to state positively or with confidence

Legal Definition


transitive verb
af·​firm ə-ˈfərm How to pronounce affirm (audio)
: to assert as true or factual
: to assert (as a judgment) as valid or confirmed
affirmed the lower court's ruling
compare remand, reverse

intransitive verb

: to make a solemn declaration under the penalties of perjury in place of swearing an oath to which one conscientiously objects
: to uphold the judgment or actions of a lower court
the appeals court affirmed
affirmance noun
affirmation noun

More from Merriam-Webster on affirm

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