bona fides


bo·​na fi·​des ˌbō-nə-ˈfī-ˌdēz How to pronounce bona fides (audio)
ˈbō-nə-ˌfīdz How to pronounce bona fides (audio)
: good faith : sincerity
: the fact of being genuine
often plural in construction
: evidence of one's good faith or genuineness
often plural in construction
: evidence of one's qualifications or achievements
often plural in construction

Did you know?

Bona fides looks like a plural word in English, but in Latin it is a singular noun that literally means "good faith." When bona fides entered English, it at first stayed very close to its Latin use, and it also kept its singular form—for example, "a claimant whose bona fides is unquestionable." But in the 20th century, use of bona fides began to widen, and it began to appear with a plural verb in certain contexts, such as "the informant's bona fides were ascertained."

Examples of bona fides in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Abandoning his blue-collar bona fides is not smart politics: While Mr. Biden’s approval rating hovers near historic lows, approval of labor unions is reaching historic highs. Matthew Miles Goodrich, The New Republic, 6 Mar. 2023 Still, others haven't shed their traditional foreign policy bona fides. Tal Axelrod, ABC News, 3 Mar. 2023 Simpson, by contrast, goes straight to the Confederacy, as a source of both personal and ideological bona fides. Lauren Collins, The New Yorker, 25 Feb. 2023 What the album does not have are any songs that lean on Nashville songwriting conventions, as did some of the earlier songs that helped establish Price’s country bona fides. James Sullivan,, 23 Feb. 2023 And here would be to present the case of architecture criticism, whose bona fides are well established. WIRED, 23 Feb. 2023 Lee, who entered the race this week, comes with sterling progressive and liberal bona fides. Benjamin Oreskesstaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 23 Feb. 2023 During the primary, Kelly questioned Dorow’s conservative bona fides in an effort to consolidate Republican voter support behind him. Bill Glauber, Journal Sentinel, 21 Feb. 2023 Even the latest film started life as a screenplay by British authors Lesley Paterson and Ian Stokell, before Berger combined their script with further elements from the novel to boost its German bona fides. CNN, 17 Feb. 2023 See More

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

Word History


Latin, literally, good faith

First Known Use

1665, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of bona fides was in 1665


Dictionary Entries Near bona fides

Cite this Entry

“Bona fides.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Sep. 2023.

Legal Definition

bona fides

: good faith
the fact that the plaintiff conducted an investigation demonstrated its bona fidesJeannette Glass Co. v. Indemnity Ins. Co. of North America, 88 A.2d 407 (1952) (dissent)


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