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 But in the past week, the administration has gone to extraordinary lengths to burnish Trump's anti-China bona fides. Grady Mcgregor, Fortune, "Trump’s China hawks are taking wing," 26 June 2020 Additionally with this mission, the small Vega booster seeks to prove its bona fides as a booster capable of flying rideshare missions. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "Rocket Report: Another no-go for MOMO rocket, SpaceX invests in McGregor," 19 June 2020 He’d been elected to Congress to serve this district in 2006, a grass-roots candidate who promised to bring his organizing bona fides with him to the corridors of power. Ben Terris, Washington Post, "Americans want justice for George Floyd. Keith Ellison is in charge of getting it.," 18 June 2020 Additionally, with this mission, the small Vega booster seeks to prove its bona fides as a booster capable of flying rideshare missions. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "An Italian-made rocket faces a big test on Thursday night," 17 June 2020 In left-wing circles, those who had fought in the Spanish Civil War’s Lincoln Brigade, serving with the Loyalists against Francisco Franco, had antifascist bona fides. Ben Zimmer, The Atlantic, "Why Trump Is So Obsessed With Antifa," 4 June 2020 The mention of being a public defender is one of the ways that the former vice president points to his civil rights bona fides on the campaign trail. Emily Larsen, Washington Examiner, "Joe Biden’s long, complicated civil rights history," 4 June 2020 Harris also pointed to her tenure as California attorney general to bolster her climate bona fides. Melanie Mason, Los Angeles Times, "Kamala Harris releases $10-trillion plan to fight climate change," 4 Sep. 2019 In fact, Citkowitz possesses literary bona fides that are not immediately apparent, having worked as a screenwriter and coming from bookish stock: Her mother was Anglo-Irish novelist Lady Caroline Blackwood and her stepfather was poet Robert Lowell. Chloe Schama, Vogue, "13 Books to Thrill, Entertain, and Sustain You This Summer," 30 May 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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The first known use of bona fides was in 1665

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Last Updated

4 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Bona fides.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Aug. 2020.

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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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