fi·​del·​i·​ty fə-ˈde-lə-tē How to pronounce fidelity (audio)
plural fidelities
: the quality or state of being faithful
his fidelity to his wife
: accuracy in details : exactness
The movie's director insisted on total fidelity to the book.
: the degree to which an electronic device (such as a record player, radio, or television) accurately reproduces its effect (such as sound or picture)

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Have a Little Faith in Fidelity

Fidelity came to English by way of French in the 15th century, and can ultimately be traced back to the Latin fidēlis, meaning "faithful, loyal, trustworthy." While fidelity was originally exclusively about loyalty, it has for centuries also been used to refer to accuracy, as in “questions about the fidelity of the translation.” Nowadays fidelity is often used in reference to recording and broadcast devices, conveying the idea that a broadcast or recording is "faithful" to the live sound or picture that it reproduces.

Choose the Right Synonym for fidelity

fidelity, allegiance, fealty, loyalty, devotion, piety mean faithfulness to something to which one is bound by pledge or duty.

fidelity implies strict and continuing faithfulness to an obligation, trust, or duty.

marital fidelity

allegiance suggests an adherence like that of citizens to their country.

pledging allegiance

fealty implies a fidelity acknowledged by the individual and as compelling as a sworn vow.

fealty to the truth

loyalty implies a faithfulness that is steadfast in the face of any temptation to renounce, desert, or betray.

valued the loyalty of his friends

devotion stresses zeal and service amounting to self-dedication.

a painter's devotion to her art

piety stresses fidelity to obligations regarded as natural and fundamental.

filial piety

Examples of fidelity in a Sentence

Yet as Reardon emphasizes early on, fidelity to facts was never the point. The same dinner with friends could appear over and over in Fisher's published work, rejiggered each time to make a different point. Laura Shapiro, New York Times Book Review, 12 Dec. 2004
It is a world familiar to all children, and it is this fidelity to child life that gives resonance to Hoffmann's tale and makes it an extraordinary work of art. Maurice Sendak, Caldecott & Co., 1988
Chaucer's patient Griselda proved her fidelity to her husband by resisting the prodigious reasons he gave her for being unfaithful. B. F. Skinner, Beyond Freedom and Dignity, 1971
music with much higher fidelity than on cassettes they have never wavered in their fidelity to the cause of freedom
Recent Examples on the Web Some have seen a commentary on fidelity and companionship. Terrence McCoy, Washington Post, 23 Nov. 2023 The clarity of the petroglyphs was arresting, the fidelity unexpected, each message remarkably well preserved—a deliberate, purposeful decision to enshrine them in the rock. Hazlitt, 2 Aug. 2023 On accepting the honor, Princess Leonor reiterated her commitment to the Constitution and fidelity to the King. Janine Henni, Peoplemag, 31 Oct. 2023 Every arts enterprise, whether a youth camp or a professional performance venue, has to balance fidelity to its mission with financial necessity. Dan Stahl, The New Yorker, 14 Sep. 2023 Sapphires are believed to symbolize fidelity, sincerity and truth. Olivia Munson, USA TODAY, 10 Aug. 2023 It is equipped with 32 qubits total but has only 29 AQ because three of its qubits can't be statistically relied on to be accurate due to poor fidelity, errors or other reasons. Paul Smith-Goodson, Forbes, 17 July 2023 One more aspect of gaming that could be more impactful on depictions of violence than visual fidelity, meanwhile, is the rapidly increasing quality of AI systems. WIRED, 5 July 2023 This term could reveal how far the right-wing justices’ fidelity to these funders’ priorities will reach. Simon Lazarus, The New Republic, 2 Oct. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'fidelity.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English fidelite, borrowed from Middle French fidelité, borrowed from Latin fidēlitāt-, fidēlitās, from fidēlis "faithful, loyal, trustworthy" (from fidē-, stem of fidēs "trust, belief, faith" + -lis, denominal suffix of appurtenance) + -itāt-, -itās -ity — more at faith entry 1

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of fidelity was in the 15th century


Dictionary Entries Near fidelity

Cite this Entry

“Fidelity.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


fi·​del·​i·​ty fə-ˈdel-ət-ē How to pronounce fidelity (audio)
plural fidelities
: the quality or state of being faithful
: exactness in details
: the degree to which an electronic device (as a record player, radio, or television) correctly reproduces its effect (as sound or a picture)

Legal Definition


fi·​del·​i·​ty fə-ˈde-lə-tē, fī- How to pronounce fidelity (audio)
: the quality or state of being faithful or loyal
especially : loyalty to one's spouse in refraining from adultery and sometimes in submitting to a spouse's reasonable sexual desires

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