ev·​i·​dence | \ ˈe-və-dən(t)s How to pronounce evidence (audio) , -və-ˌden(t)s \

Definition of evidence

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : an outward sign : indication
b : something that furnishes proof : testimony specifically : something legally submitted to a tribunal to ascertain the truth of a matter
2 : one who bears witness especially : one who voluntarily confesses a crime and testifies for the prosecution against one's accomplices
in evidence
1 : to be seen : conspicuous trim lawns … are everywhere in evidenceAmer. Guide Series: N.C.
2 : as evidence


evidenced; evidencing

Definition of evidence (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to offer evidence of : prove, evince

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Choose the Right Synonym for evidence


show, manifest, evidence, evince, demonstrate mean to reveal outwardly or make apparent. show is the general term but sometimes implies that what is revealed must be gained by inference from acts, looks, or words. careful not to show his true feelings manifest implies a plainer, more immediate revelation. manifested musical ability at an early age evidence suggests serving as proof of the actuality or existence of something. a commitment evidenced by years of loyal service evince implies a showing by outward marks or signs. evinced not the slightest fear demonstrate implies showing by action or by display of feeling. demonstrated their approval by loud applause

Examples of evidence in a Sentence

Noun There is no evidence that these devices actually work. He has been unable to find evidence to support his theory. Investigators could find no evidence linking him to the crime. The jury had a great deal of evidence to sort through before reaching a verdict. There is not a scrap of evidence in her favor. Anything you say may be used as evidence against you.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Both men are facing two charges each of second-degree murder, two counts of first-degree robbery, three charges of first-degree burglary, tampering with physical evidence and third-degree assault. Tess Williams, Anchorage Daily News, "Second man charged in fatal beating on New Year’s Day in Emmonak," 12 Jan. 2021 Outside of restaurants, retails stores, banks and barbershops, evidence of the coronavirus pandemic has taken up residence on city sidewalks. Taylor Kate Brown, SFChronicle.com, "Bay Briefing: California will open mass vaccination centers — but they’re not for everyone just yet," 12 Jan. 2021 There’s also a body of empirical evidence showing that even one shot will significantly raise immunity. Popular Science, "Is one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine enough?," 12 Jan. 2021 Vaccine Media Hub hopes to find simple, low-tech solutions, backed by evidence from experiments, that will be effective in debunking false information. Cliff Pinckard, cleveland, "Former Ohio utility regulator suggested wording revisions to nuclear bailout bill: The Wake Up for Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021," 12 Jan. 2021 The Toronto event brings together a mix of anti-vaccine activists, small-business owners who oppose coronavirus restrictions and hardcore conspiracists who believe, despite zero evidence, that Trump is secretly waging war on an international cabal. Amanda Coletta, BostonGlobe.com, "US-Canada border is mostly closed, but Canadians made it to Capitol siege," 12 Jan. 2021 The ruling from 13th Circuit Court Judge Kevin Elsenheimer is the latest in a case that has furthered election conspiracies and alleged election fraud without presenting credible evidence. Dave Boucher, Detroit Free Press, "Antrim judge: Names of those who conducted voting machines review can be released," 11 Jan. 2021 Emerging evidence points to biological changes in COVID patients, said Heather Snyder, vice president of medical and scientific relations at the Alzheimer’s Association. Lauren Caruba, ExpressNews.com, "Will COVID-19 have long-term effects on the brain? San Antonio researchers are trying to find out.," 11 Jan. 2021 Those included procedural flaws, such as waiting too long before challenging election rules set months or more earlier, and substantive grounds, namely the failure to produce material evidence of fraud or misconduct after millions voted. Jess Bravin, WSJ, "Supreme Court Rejects Trump Plea to Expedite Election Appeals," 11 Jan. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb On top of that, there’s also evidence the suspect violently handled the animals as feathers were found spread around the store and one bird was discovered dead, WKMG reported. Joe Mario Pedersen, orlandosentinel.com, "50 birds, two monkeys stolen from Kissimmee exotic pet store," 2 Nov. 2020 The update adds to evidence the plane maker has fended off the worst impact of the aviation crisis, even as virus cases surge in the U.S. and Europe. Thomas Buckley, Bloomberg.com, "Europe’s Lockdowns Threaten to Squash Fragile Profit Rebound," 29 Oct. 2020 The model features a number of archaeological sites, including Chiquihuite cave, which are intriguing but controversial enough, as experts disagree whether the sites actually evidence human occupation. Brian Handwerk, Smithsonian Magazine, "Discovery in Mexican Cave May Drastically Change the Known Timeline of Humans’ Arrival to the Americas," 22 July 2020 But in sharply limiting people’s activity, the orders have left still-deepening scars on the economy, evidenced in part by unprecedented jobless claims and shuttering businesses. Dominic Fracassa, SFChronicle.com, "Bay Area counties extend coronavirus stay-at-home orders to end of May," 27 Apr. 2020 That consuming celebrity would eventually take its toll on Jordan, as evidenced in the miniseries’ later chapters. Los Angeles Times, "A ‘home movie’ of Michael Jordan at his peak sat in the vault for 20 years. Until now," 19 Apr. 2020 As evidenced in the Cait Flanders example above, the words and actions of parents really do have an effect on young ears. Oregonkid.com, oregonlive, "Now is as good a time as any to start talking to kids about financial responsibility," 19 Apr. 2020 As evidenced in the clip above, the famous 1997-98 championship Bulls team almost never even happened, with management considering blowing things up, despite coming off of back-to-back titles. Derek Lawrence, EW.com, "Sports fans, rejoice! Here's an exclusive sneak peek at Michael Jordan's Last Dance," 14 Apr. 2020 Far from it, as investigative reporter Jie Jenny Zou documents in a recent Twitter thread, and as evidenced in daily reports of how dire everyday life has become for the poor, people of color, and marginalized communities around the world. Clarissa Pharr, Quartz, "Coronavirus lockdown is bringing back the live DJ battle," 5 Apr. 2020

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


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


circa 1610, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for evidence

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The first known use of evidence was in the 14th century

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Statistics for evidence

Last Updated

18 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Evidence.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/evidence. Accessed 22 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for evidence


How to pronounce evidence (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of evidence

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: something which shows that something else exists or is true
chiefly US, somewhat formal : a visible sign of something
: material that is presented to a court of law to help find the truth about something



English Language Learners Definition of evidence (Entry 2 of 2)

formal : to offer or show evidence of (something) : to show or indicate (something)


ev·​i·​dence | \ ˈe-və-dəns How to pronounce evidence (audio) \

Kids Definition of evidence

1 : a sign which shows that something exists or is true : indication They found evidence of a robbery.
2 : material presented to a court to help find the truth about something


ev·​i·​dence | \ ˈe-və-dəns, -ˌdens How to pronounce evidence (audio) \

Legal Definition of evidence

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: something that furnishes or tends to furnish proof especially : something (as testimony, writings, or objects) presented at a judicial or administrative proceeding for the purpose of establishing the truth or falsity of an alleged matter of fact — see also admissible, best evidence rule, exclusionary rule, exhibit, foundation, objection, preponderance of the evidence, relevant, scintilla, state's evidence, suppress, testimony, witness, Federal Rules of Evidence — compare allegation, argument, proof
best evidence
: evidence that is the most reliable and most direct in relationship to what it is offered to prove — see also best evidence rule
character evidence
: evidence of a particular human trait (as honesty or peacefulness) of a party or witness — see also character witness at witness

Note: Under the Federal Rules of Evidence, character evidence generally may not be used to prove that a person acted in accordance with that character. It is admissible for that purpose, however, if a criminal defendant offers it about himself or herself or about the victim, or if the prosecution offers evidence to rebut the defendant's evidence in either of those circumstances. The prosecution may also rebut a claim of self-defense by presenting evidence of the peaceful character of the victim. Additionally, the character of a witness with regard to truthfulness may be attacked or supported by opinion or by evidence of reputation.

circumstantial evidence
: evidence that tends to prove a factual matter by proving other events or circumstances from which the occurrence of the matter at issue can be reasonably inferred — compare direct evidence in this entry
clear and convincing evidence
: evidence showing a high probability of truth of the factual matter at issue — compare preponderance of the evidence, reasonable doubt
communicative evidence \ kə-​ˈmyü-​nə-​kə-​tiv-​, -​ˌkā-​tiv-​ \
: testimonial evidence in this entry
competent evidence
: evidence that is admissible, relevant, and material to the factual matter at issue
corroborating evidence
: evidence that is independent of and different from but that supplements and strengthens evidence already presented as proof of a factual matter

called also corroborative evidence

— compare cumulative evidence in this entry
cumulative evidence
: evidence that is of the same kind as evidence already offered as proof of the same factual matter — compare corroborating evidence in this entry
demonstrative evidence
: evidence in the form of objects (as maps, diagrams, or models) that has in itself no probative value but is used to illustrate and clarify the factual matter at issue broadly : physical evidence in this entry

called also illustrative evidence

derivative evidence
: evidence obtained as a result of the unlawful gathering of primary evidence

called also indirect evidence, secondary evidence

— see also fruit of the poisonous tree
direct evidence
: evidence that if believed immediately establishes the factual matter to be proved by it without the need for inferences especially : evidence of a factual matter offered by a witness whose knowledge of the matter was obtained through the use of his or her senses (as sight or hearing) — compare circumstantial evidence in this entry
evidence in chief
: evidence that is to be used by a party in making its case in chief
exculpatory evidence
: evidence that tends to clear a defendant from fault or guilt — see also brady material

Note: The prosecution in a criminal case is obligated to disclose to the defense any exculpatory evidence in its possession.

extrinsic evidence
1 : evidence regarding an agreement that is not included in the written version of the agreement

Note: A court may use extrinsic evidence to make sense of an ambiguity in a writing subject to some limitations.

2 : evidence about a witness's character obtained from the testimony of other witnesses rather than from cross-examination of the witness himself or herself

Note: A witness may not be impeached by the use of extrinsic evidence.

hearsay evidence
: a statement made out of court and not under oath and offered in evidence as proof that what is stated is true : hearsay
illustrative evidence
: demonstrative evidence in this entry
impeachment evidence
: evidence that may be used to impeach a witness because it tends to harm the witness's credibility
indirect evidence
: derivative evidence in this entry
intrinsic evidence
: evidence that exists within a writing the will contains ample intrinsic evidence of the testator's intentStoner v. Custer, 251 N.E.2d 668 (1968) — compare extrinsic evidence in this entry
material evidence
: evidence that is likely to affect the determination of a matter or issue specifically : evidence that warrants reopening of a claim or reversal of a conviction because but for the circumstance that the evidence was unavailable the outcome of the first proceeding would have been different
no evidence
: evidence presented that is insufficient to prove a matter of especially vital fact : a point of error that insufficient evidence has been presented to support a finding
parol evidence
: evidence of matters spoken (as an oral agreement) that are related to but not included in a writing — see also parol evidence rule
physical evidence
: tangible evidence (as a weapon, document, or visible injury) that is in some way related to the incident that gave rise to the case

called also real evidence

— compare demonstrative evidence and testimonial evidence in this entry
presumptive evidence
: prima facie evidence in this entry
prima facie evidence
: evidence that is sufficient to prove a factual matter at issue and justify a favorable judgment on that issue unless rebutted
primary evidence
1 : best evidence in this entry
2 : evidence obtained as a direct result of an unlawful search
real evidence
: physical evidence in this entry
rebuttal evidence
: evidence that tends to refute or discredit an opponent's evidence
relevant evidence
: evidence that tends to prove or disprove any issue of fact that is of consequence to the case
secondary evidence
: derivative evidence in this entry
substantial evidence
: evidence greater than a scintilla of evidence that a reasonable person would find sufficient to support a conclusion
substantive evidence
: evidence offered to prove a factual issue rather than merely for impeachment
testimonial evidence
: evidence given in writing or speech or in another way that expresses the person's thoughts — compare physical evidence in this entry

Note: Only testimonial evidence is protected by the Fifth Amendment's privilege against self-incrimination.

in evidence
: as evidence introduced a letter in evidence
evidenced; evidencing

Legal Definition of evidence (Entry 2 of 2)

: to provide evidence of

History and Etymology for evidence


Medieval Latin evidentia, from Latin, that which is obvious, from evident-, evidens clear, obvious, from e- out of, from + videns, present participle of videre to see

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