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

Ross Dwelley, an undrafted rookie last season, returned this year like a bona fide pro ready to serve as Kittle’s understudy. Cam Inman, The Mercury News, "Five things to watch in 49ers exhibition debut against Cowboys," 9 Aug. 2019 Amy Klobuchar, who is expected to qualify for September, played up her Midwestern bona fides but never landed a punch (or took one, for that matter). Matt Ford, The New Republic, "This Is the Soul of the Democratic Party," 31 July 2019 Medicaid expansion has been a litmus test for Republican governors and legislative leaders aiming to demonstrate their anti-Obamacare bona fides. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, "Column: New data show that failing to expand Medicaid has led to 16,000 unnecessary deaths," 22 July 2019 To call Tanisha Scott simply a choreographer would be missing out on her impressive list of bona fides: movement coach, creative director, music video dancer, and Drake whisperer. Vogue, "Watch Tanisha Scott Find Her Caribbean Beat in Brooklyn," 20 Sep. 2018 In the meantime, one of the last bona fide heroes in American sports keeps punching, keeps lifting up the hungry young fighters who train alongside him, five of whom will fight on the Santa Cruz-Mares undercard at Staples Center. Michael Mcknight,, "In Rematch Against Abner Mares, Leo Santa Cruz Finds Motivation in Father's Cancer Fight," 7 June 2018 By 1931, Byrd was a bona fide American hero, the first person (it was believed) to fly over both the North and the South poles. John Kelly, Washington Post, "In 1931, Washington tourists could visit Admiral Byrd’s Antarctic flagship," 12 May 2018 Hannah Beast was instead issuing her official mea culpa for keeping Luke Parker, season 15’s bona fide villain, around for 10 weeks of her Bachelorette season. Ariana Romero,, "Hannah Finally Gave A Full Explanation For The Luke P. Fiasco On Bachelorette “Men Tell All”," 25 July 2019 But Jags still need more big plays from that side of ball to reclaim Sacksonville label and playoff bona fides. Nate Davis, USA TODAY, "NFL power rankings: How all 32 teams stack up heading into 2019 training camps," 23 July 2019

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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Dictionary Entries near bona fides


bona confiscata

bona fide

bona fides




Statistics for bona fides

Last Updated

14 Aug 2019

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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

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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of or relating to the heavens

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