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 Such a body would be characterized by its political and financial independence, democratic legitimacy, fiduciary duty to city residents, and technical capacity to securely share data. Alex Ryan, Quartz, "Can smart cities help their residents without hurting their privacy?," 27 Nov. 2019 Instead of a ban, Harris argues for extending the fiduciary duty of doctors, lawyers, and other professions to include Internet companies, legally binding them to act exclusively in accordance with their clients’ well-being. Brian Barth, The New Yorker, "Big Tech’s Big Defector," 25 Nov. 2019 Company stockholders sued him last year for breaching his fiduciary duty to the company and shareholders and unjustly enriching himself. Lorraine Mirabella,, "Years in the making, construction of controversial Port Covington project finally underway in South Baltimore," 8 Nov. 2019 As future CEOs, our charges must manage the conflicting demands placed on firms by myriad interested parties while still fulfilling their fiduciary duties to shareholders. The Economist, "The future of management education," 2 Nov. 2019 State Law Claims On to the state law claims: breach of fiduciary duty, constructive fraud and unfair competition. Jonathan Handel, The Hollywood Reporter, "Where the Writers Guild Stands in Its Legal War With Agencies," 30 Oct. 2019 Of course, Facebook’s fiduciary duty rests with its shareholders, not with the public. Sue Halpern, The New Yorker, "The Problem of Political Advertising on Social Media," 24 Oct. 2019 Late last month, the Guild filed a sweeping complaint in federal court accusing the three biggest agencies with fraud, price-fixing, restraint of trade, racketeering and violating their fiduciary duty to clients. Steven Pearlstein, Washington Post, "Big agencies and studios have a lock on Hollywood. It’s high time to apply antitrust law.," 9 Sep. 2019 Carter has proposed a $622 million budget and suggests, as an example of his fiduciary responsibility, that other departments are being asked to make cuts also. Joe Soucheray, Twin Cities, "Soucheray: We’d have a lot more money for safety if we spent less on social engineering," 8 Sep. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Acting as a fiduciary for the funds’ exposure to stocks like Gilead’s, Stringer also represents a large number of the pharma giant's shareholders. NBC News, "NYC comptroller aims to 'clawback' pay of HIV pharma executives," 15 Nov. 2019 My thesis is that the investors who dealt with fiduciaries suffered much less from these events, and some of the investing public began to notice that. Barry Ritholtz,, "SEC’s new ‘best interest’ rule is just a guideline, and not best for investors," 24 June 2019 Some suggest getting it in writing that an adviser is acting as your fiduciary across all of your accounts. Lisa Beilfuss, WSJ, "Confused About Financial Advisers? You’re Not Alone," 15 June 2019 In California and Arizona, people can hire licensed fiduciaries for this role, Geber says. Washington Post, "Liz Weston: 3 steps to keep ‘solo agers’ happier and safer," 15 July 2019 Investment advisers do have to act as fiduciaries, though that doesn’t mean conflicts of interest don’t exist. Lisa Beilfuss, WSJ, "How to Check Your Financial Adviser," 15 June 2019 The new legislation should remove that risk (although the plan’s sponsors are still fiduciaries, so they are legally obliged to work in their customers best interests). Allison Schrager, Quartz, "It’s time to get over how much we hate annuities," 3 June 2019 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

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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Time Traveler for fiduciary

Time Traveler

The first known use of fiduciary was in 1631

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Statistics for fiduciary

Last Updated

9 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Fiduciary.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 11 December 2019.

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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


How to pronounce fiduciary (audio)

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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heavy with or as if with moisture

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