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) \

Definition of bona fides

1 : good faith : sincerity
2 : the fact of being genuine often plural in construction
3 : evidence of one's good faith or genuineness often plural in construction
4 : evidence of one's qualifications or achievements often plural in construction

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Did You Know?

Bona fides looks like a plural word in English, but in Latin, it's a singular noun that literally means "good faith." When bona fides entered English, it at first stayed very close to its Latin use - it was found mostly in legal contexts and it meant "honesty or lawfulness of purpose," just as it did in Latin. It also retained its singular construction. Using this original sense one might speak of "a claimant whose bona fides is unquestionable," for example. But in the 20th century, use of bona fides began to widen, and it began to appear with a plural verb in certain contexts. For example, a sentence such as "the informant's bona fides were ascertained" is now possible.

Examples of bona fides in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Her YouTube channel may boast nearly 15 million subscribers, but these days Singh’s bona fides come from a different space. New York Times, "Lilly Singh’s Week: Pixar’s ‘Soul’ and ’90s Bollywood," 5 Jan. 2021 Rumors of a congressional run from a former Ohio state senator with major bona fides on the Left are taking shape. Spencer Neale, Washington Examiner, "Nina Turner files for congressional bid in Ohio, FEC records show," 9 Dec. 2020 Any significant legislative policy changes would rely heavily on the bipartisan bona fides and Senate relationships Biden touted on the campaign trial. Jennifer Haberkorn, Los Angeles Times, "Once ‘cocky’ Democrats recalibrate ambitions in Congress amid election setbacks," 30 Nov. 2020 Anxious to prove his intellectual bona fides and ashamed of making some gross faux pas, J. D. dashes off to call his girlfriend, Usha (Freida Pinto), and consult her on which cutlery to use for which course. David Sims, The Atlantic, "Hillbilly Elegy Is One of the Worst Movies of the Year," 23 Nov. 2020 Perhaps this helps explain why Johnson, during his 20-minute phone call with Biden, went to great pains to emphasize his liberal bona fides. Madeleine Kearns, National Review, "Boris and Biden," 15 Nov. 2020 But engineering the vehicle to be electric didn't just give the Hummer's eco-bona fides a boost, however, according to Hil Brook, vice president of GMC marketing and advertising. Peter Valdes-dapena, CNN, "The Hummer is making a comeback -- and this time, it's all-electric," 20 Oct. 2020 But its bona fides as a legit workout have only added to its post-quarantine appeal. Lauren Mechling, Vogue, "Why Viral Roller-Skating Routines Are the Feel-Good Workout We Need Right Now," 20 Oct. 2020 But Buttigieg’s diversity appeal was overshadowed among progressives by his centrist campaign platform, prompting doubts about the former mayor's infrastructure bona fides. Joel Gehrke, Washington Examiner, "From picks to policy: Here's what Biden's key appointments mean for his administration," 24 Dec. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'bona fides.' 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 bona fides

1665, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for bona fides

Latin, literally, good faith

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Time Traveler for bona fides

Time Traveler

The first known use of bona fides was in 1665

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Last Updated

18 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Bona fides.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for bona fides

bona fides

How to pronounce bona fides (audio) How to pronounce bona fides (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of bona fides

formal : evidence which shows that what you have said about yourself is true : evidence showing that you deserve a position or that you can be trusted

bona fides

bo·​na fi·​des | \ ˌbō-nə-ˈfī-ˌdēz, commonly ˈbō-nə-ˌfīdz How to pronounce bona fides (audio) \

Legal Definition of 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)

History and Etymology for bona fides


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