bona fide


bo·​na fide ˈbō-nə-ˌfīd How to pronounce bona fide (audio)
-ˈfī-də How to pronounce bona fide (audio)
: neither specious nor counterfeit : genuine
has become a bona fide celebrity
: made with earnest intent : sincere
a bona fide proposal
law : made in good faith without fraud or deceit
a bona fide offer to buy a farm

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Bona fide means "in good faith" in Latin. When applied to business deals and the like, it stresses the absence of fraud or deception. A bona fide sale of securities is an entirely aboveboard transaction. Outside of business and law, bona fide implies mere sincerity and earnestness. A bona fide promise is one that the person has every intention of keeping. A bona fide proposal of marriage is one made by a suitor who isn't kidding around. Bona fide also has the noun form bona fides; when someone asks about someone else's bona fides, it usually means evidence of their qualifications or achievements.

Choose the Right Synonym for bona fide

authentic, genuine, bona fide mean being actually and exactly what is claimed.

authentic implies being fully trustworthy as according with fact

an authentic account of the perilous journey

; it can also stress painstaking or faithful imitation of an original.

an authentic reproduction
authentic Vietnamese cuisine

genuine implies actual character not counterfeited, imitated, or adulterated

genuine piety
genuine maple syrup

; it also connotes definite origin from a source.

a genuine Mark Twain autograph

bona fide implies good faith and sincerity of intention.

a bona fide offer for the stock

Example Sentences

She has established her position as a bona fide celebrity. His latest record was a bona fide hit. They have a bona fide claim for the loss.
Recent Examples on the Web As adults, bats—the only mammals in the world capable of bona fide flight—are all about their wings. Katherine J. Wu, The Atlantic, 11 Jan. 2023 The app had eclipsed 100 million daily average users worldwide, and minted its first bona fide superstar in the artist Lil Nas X, establishing TikTok as a launching pad for musical fame. Alex W. Palmer, New York Times, 20 Dec. 2022 IceCube has detected millions of neutrinos overall, but only a few hundred at most appear to have come from bona fide cosmological objects. Phil Plait, Scientific American, 20 Dec. 2022 Outside of size and a bona fide NFL prospect, Oregon State has its best group of receivers heading into a season under fifth-year coach Jonathan Smith. oregonlive, 23 Aug. 2022 Speaking of a productive farm systems, the Rangers will enter 2023 with a bona fide rookie of the year candidate in third baseman Josh Jung. Dallas News, 9 Jan. 2023 While there was no surefire star on par with Myles Garrett of the Browns, there were a handful of bona fide first-round talents with Pro Bowls in their future. Derrik Klassen, New York Times, 1 Jan. 2023 Beyond its ornate wooden door lies a bona fide urban oasis, centered by a verdant Zen garden, a pool and a show-stopping double staircase emblazoned with mythical dragons—another Friedeberg masterwork. Alexandra Kirkman, Robb Report, 20 Dec. 2022 The big cat soon became a bona fide celebrity, appearing in a glossy National Geographic feature that showed the mountain lion prowling past the Hollywood sign at night, muscles rippling under his tawny fur. Los Angeles Times, 17 Dec. 2022 See More

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

Word History


Latin, literally, in good faith

First Known Use

1632, in the meaning defined at sense 3

Time Traveler
The first known use of bona fide was in 1632

Dictionary Entries Near bona fide

Cite this Entry

“Bona fide.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Mar. 2023.

Kids Definition

bona fide

bo·​na fide ˈbō-nə-ˌfīd How to pronounce bona fide (audio) ˈbä-nə- How to pronounce bona fide (audio)
: made or done in good faith
bona fide offer
: made with earnest intent : sincere
: genuine sense 1
a bona fide cowboy

from Latin bona fide, literally, "in good faith"; bona from bonus "good" and fide from fides "faith" — related to bonus, faith

Legal Definition

: characterized by good faith and lack of fraud or deceit
a bona fide offer
: valid under or in compliance with the law
retirement incentives made part of a bona fide employee benefit plan
: made with or characterized by sincerity
a bona fide belief
: being real or genuine
bona fide residents

Latin, in good faith

More from Merriam-Webster on bona fide

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