fi·​du·​cia·​ry | \ fə-ˈdü-shē-ˌer-ē How to pronounce fiduciary (audio) , -shə-rē, -ˈdyü-, fī-\

Definition of fiduciary

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: of, relating to, or involving a confidence or trust: such as
a : held or founded in trust or confidence a fiduciary relationship a bank's fiduciary obligations
b : holding in trust
c : depending on public confidence for value or currency fiduciary fiat money


plural fiduciaries

Definition of fiduciary (Entry 2 of 2)

: one that holds a fiduciary relation or acts in a fiduciary capacity

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Did You Know?


Fiduciary relationships often concern money, but the word fiduciary does not, in and of itself, suggest financial matters. Rather, fiduciary applies to any situation in which one person justifiably places confidence and trust in someone else and seeks that person's help or advice in some matter. The attorney-client relationship is a fiduciary one, for example, because the client trusts the attorney to act in the best interest of the client at all times. Fiduciary can also be used as a noun for the person who acts in a fiduciary capacity, and fiduciarily or fiducially can be called upon if you are in need of an adverb. The words are all faithful to their origin: Latin fidere, which means "to trust."

Examples of fiduciary in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

In addition to the mass firing, the Writers Guild has sued Hollywood’s four biggest agencies, claiming that packaging fees are a violation of an agency’s fiduciary duty to its clients. Emily Witt, The New Yorker, "Hollywood Writers Attempt Life Without Agents," 6 June 2019 Arguably, leadership lapses foremost evident in Ms. Holmes’ quest and collapse were those of fiduciary responsibility and conscience. Letters To The Editor, The Mercury News, "Letter: Theranos compromised an entire technology segment," 5 June 2019 The fiduciary rule wouldn’t have prevented all unscrupulous sales practices. Lisa Beilfuss, WSJ, "Steak Dinner and Annuities: Retirement Product Surges After Fiduciary Rule’s Demise," 27 Oct. 2018 Irgens, in response, said the firm always acts responsibly to meet fiduciary obligations. Tom Daykin, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Milwaukee's Irgens development firm, former partners settle lawsuit," 5 July 2018 Mark Wilson Getty Images President Donald Trump’s charitable foundation has persistently broken state and federal laws with improper political activity, self-dealing and failing to follow basic fiduciary obligations, New York said in a lawsuit. Fortune, "Trump Foundation Accused of Violating Charity Law," 14 June 2018 The advisers at these firms, legally referred to as Investment Adviser Representatives, have a fiduciary obligation to act in their clients’ best interests, and to mitigate and disclose conflicts of interest. David Savir, miamiherald, "Investor beware: Your financial advisor may not have to act in your best interest | Miami Herald," 28 May 2018 This board has a fiduciary obligation to care for this university. David Jesse, Detroit Free Press, "Engler adviser: Nassar survivor's claims of payout 'fake news'," 18 Apr. 2018 Henry Mazurek, a lawyer representing Mr. Huberfeld, said his client was different from Mr. Seabrook, who had a fiduciary duty to his union members. Corinne Ramey, WSJ, "Hedge Fund Co-Founder Gets 30 Months for Role in Alleged Bribery Scheme," 12 Feb. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Michael Lustig New York The law constrains the actions of trustees and other fiduciaries who must invest for the exclusive benefit of the beneficiaries, without regard to collateral benefits. WSJ, "On Good Investing vs. Investing for the Good," 16 Dec. 2018 Estate planning attorney Jennifer Sawday, a partner at TLD Law in Long Beach, California, often recommends that clients consider appointing a corporate trustee or a professional fiduciary as their executor. Liz Weston, The Seattle Times, "How to write a will that won’t trigger a family feud," 24 Sep. 2018 Separate guidance from the agency would shield the firm from a provision of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 prohibiting fiduciaries from self-dealing, including earning fees as a result of their recommendations. Anne Tergesen, WSJ, "Labor Department Clears Path for Automatic 401(k) Transfers," 12 Nov. 2018 For instance, individuals are allowed to sue fiduciaries of employer and union plans for charging a commission. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Tom Perez’s Fiduciary Flop," 18 Mar. 2018 Fiduciary standard The growth of CITs in recent years also may be getting help from the pressure on retirement plans and financial professionals giving retirement advice to act as fiduciaries—a legal requirement to act in the client’s interest. Bailey Mccann, WSJ, "CITs, the Not-Exactly Mutual Funds, Are on Pace to Hit $3 Trillion," 3 June 2018 Stewart-Cabrera, 52, is a professional fiduciary who served as a trustee for a trust that owned a Sacramento property, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of California. Kayla Fitzgerald, sacbee, "Woman accused of cheating trustees, spending their money on Vegas gambling trip," 30 May 2018 Bankruptcy professionals are fiduciaries, required by law to have an undivided loyalty to their clients. Mary Williams Walsh, New York Times, "McKinsey Hid Conflicts of Interest From Courts, Lawsuit Says," 9 May 2018 This federal law requires individuals who manage the plan to act as fiduciaries and operate in the best interest of the participants. Darla Mercado, USA TODAY, "1-in-3 workers can’t answer this question about their retirement savings," 28 Apr. 2018

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


circa 1641, in the meaning defined above


1631, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for fiduciary

Adjective and Noun

Latin fiduciarius, from fiducia confidence, trust, from fidere — see fidelity

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Statistics for fiduciary

Last Updated

10 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for fiduciary

The first known use of fiduciary was in 1631

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More Definitions for fiduciary



Financial Definition of fiduciary

What It Is

A fiduciary is a person or entity responsible for managing a qualified retirement plan in accordance with the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).

In a broader sense, a fiduciary is a person or entity responsible for acting in the best interests of others -- typically an investment client, a company's shareholders or a beneficiary.

How It Works

For example, let's say Company XYZ gets a 401(k) plan. The employees and the company contribute to the plan, which soon has $3,000,000 of assets. A named fiduciary, which works for the 401(k) administrator, is responsible for ensuring that the assets are invested according to the employees' wishes and that Company XYZ is matching the employee contributions as promised. The named fiduciary is not responsible for making Company XYZ happy -- it is responsible for making the 401(k) plan participants happy.

A trustee is a person or entity that has a fiduciary duty to another person or entity, called the beneficiary. The trustee holds cash, assets, or title to property for the benefit of the beneficiary. The trustee's job is to manage the assets in the trust appropriately and to ensure that they are disbursed in the best interests of the beneficiary.

The purpose of the board of directors is to make sure management is acting in the best interests of the shareholders. This is why the board of directors lays at the heart of the notion of corporate governance: It has a fiduciary duty to the shareholders, and only to the shareholders. This can be difficult, especially when the vast majority of information that boards receive about corporate performance comes from management.

Why It Matters

Fiduciary duty is one of the most revered and powerful aspects of the financial world. Fiduciary duty requires a person to act in the best interest of his or her clients, and when a named fiduciary does not do so, the consequences can involve civil or even criminal penalties.

Source: Investing Answers



English Language Learners Definition of fiduciary

formal : relating to or involving trust (such as the trust between a customer and a professional)


fi·​du·​cia·​ry | \ fə-ˈdü-shə-rē, -ˈdyü-, -shē-ˌer-ē How to pronounce fiduciary (audio) \
plural fiduciaries

Legal Definition of fiduciary

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: one often in a position of authority who obligates himself or herself to act on behalf of another (as in managing money or property) and assumes a duty to act in good faith and with care, candor, and loyalty in fulfilling the obligation : one (as an agent) having a fiduciary duty to another — see also fiduciary duty at duty, fiduciary relationship — compare principal



Legal Definition of fiduciary (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : of, relating to, or involving a confidence or trust a guardian acting in his fiduciary capacity
2 : of or relating to a fiduciary or the position of a fiduciary a fiduciary bond

History and Etymology for fiduciary


Latin fiduciarius, from fiducia trust, transfer of a property on trust

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More from Merriam-Webster on fiduciary

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with fiduciary

Spanish Central: Translation of fiduciary

Nglish: Translation of fiduciary for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of fiduciary for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about fiduciary

Comments on fiduciary

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