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

Examples of affirm in a Sentence

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 Nearly 2,000 members of the creative community have signed a pledge that condemns discrimination and affirms Israel’s right to exist. Cynthia Littleton, Variety, 17 Nov. 2023 The other two demands were that the university resist calls to suspend and/or decertify the Palestine Solidarity Committee and that the university affirm its commitment to the freedom of thought. NBC News, 15 Nov. 2023 Challenge negative self-talk and replace it with positive and affirming thoughts. Mark Travers, Forbes, 13 Nov. 2023 Fitch Ratings and Moody’s Investors Service are scheduled to review Italy on Nov. 10 and Nov. 17, respectively; S&P Global Ratings affirmed Italy’s ‘BBB’ rating and stable outlook in October. WSJ, 8 Nov. 2023 Should the court affirm the lower court’s dismissal, the case would be over. Audra D. S. Burch, New York Times, 7 Nov. 2023 Foundation Black feminist texts like the Combahee River Collective Statement, published in 1977, affirm a politic driven by Black women who know white supremacy and patriarchy’s violence first hand. Brea Baker,, 5 Nov. 2023 Chabon may not have intended to affirm the value of Israel by imagining a world without it. Jack Butler, National Review, 4 Nov. 2023 The 5th Circuit originally affirmed the district court decision. Paige Pfleger, ProPublica, 3 Nov. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'affirm.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

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 28 Nov. 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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