com·​pur·​ga·​tor ˈkäm-(ˌ)pər-ˌgā-tər How to pronounce compurgator (audio)
: one who under oath vouches for the character or conduct of an accused person

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Compurgator is a descendant of the Latin verb compurgare, meaning "to purify wholly." The root of that word, "purgare," also gave English "purge" ("to clear of guilt," "to cause evacuation from," or "to get rid of") and "expurgate" ("to cleanse of something morally harmful, offensive, or erroneous"). "Compurgator" has occasionally been used in a more general sense of "one who supports or defends another," but its primary application is to the specific legal situation in which someone appears in court as a character witness for the defendant. "Compurgator" has been used in English with this specific legal meaning since the 16th century.

Word History

First Known Use

1533, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of compurgator was in 1533


Dictionary Entries Near compurgator

Cite this Entry

“Compurgator.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 May. 2024.

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