bona fides

bo·​na fi·​des | \ˌbō-nə-ˈfī-ˌdēz, ÷ˈbō-nə-ˌfīdz \

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

After looking for more out of the team's pitching as late as mid-May, Hickman and his staff helped develop Wynn into a bona fide ace. Curt Hogg, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "For the Wynn: Whitnall junior named All-Suburban Softball Player of the Year. Here's the rest of the team.," 22 June 2018 The Red Sox added a bona fide ace to last year’s AL East title-winner. Jeff Sanders,, "Baseball set for wild postseason scramble," 2 Oct. 2017 Maluma, for instance, is a bona fide superstar, and his music is universal at this point. Leila Cobo, Billboard, "Sony/ATV Latin President Jorge Mejia On Writing Music Memoir, Composing His Own Works, Going on Tour and Snagging 'Despacito' Writers," 29 June 2018 As Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem warmed up before the French Open final, the booming voice of an announcer at Court Philippe Chatrier called out each player's bona fides. Howard Fendrich, Fox News, "Nadal wins 11th French Open title by beating Thiem in 3 sets," 10 June 2018 Brazil has waited four years to establish its championship bona fides. Brian Straus,, "Quarterfinal Stage a Narrative Tipping Point for World Cup Contenders," 5 July 2018 Our lengthy hands-on with the game's substantial E3 build gave us a chance to confirm changes big and small that combine to make Smash Ultimate look and feel like a bona fide, updates-all-around rejuvenation to the 19-year-old franchise. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, "Smash Bros. Ultimate hands-on: We put new fighters, new features to the test," 14 June 2018 Now, with more than one million views, upwards of 20,000 shares and the attention of shark experts all over the world, Rinder has become a bona fide viral sensation. Meghan Overdeep, Southern Living, "Experts Agree: This South Carolina Man’s Way of Telling If There’s a Shark in the Water Is 100% Accurate," 11 July 2018 However Nelson's departure leaves the passing game without a bona fide deep threat who can regularly capitalize on Rodgers' whip of an arm. Nate Davis, USA TODAY, "Packers training camp questions: Besides Aaron Rodgers' return, why else might Green Bay surge?," 11 July 2018

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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bona confiscata

bona fide

bona fides




Statistics for bona fides

Last Updated

23 Oct 2018

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The first known use of bona fides was in 1665

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bona fides


English Language Learners Definition of bona fides

: 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 \

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)

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