fi·​du·​cia·​ry | \ fə-ˈdü-shē-ˌer-ē, -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

As long as personal data is the company’s lifeblood, there will always be a fiduciary requirement to collect more, to compute more. Jacob Silverman, Longreads, "Searching for a Future Beyond Facebook," 2 May 2018 Some of those positions required him to assume fiduciary responsibilities to protect those companies’ interests, the Times notes. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, "Top cancer expert forgot to mention $3.5M industry ties—he just resigned," 14 Sep. 2018 The entity or association sponsoring the 401(k) plan would serve as the fiduciary and have responsibility for setting up and running the plan. Anne Tergesen, WSJ, "401(k) Rule Change Would Ease Small Companies’ Path to Joint Plans," 22 Oct. 2018 First, the privilege does not allow a spouse to breach fiduciary and contractual duties to an employer. Michael Mccann,, "Could Bryan Colangelo Still Face Legal Consequences After Parting Ways With 76ers?," 7 June 2018 Depending on how your plan is structured, there may be more charges for administrative, fiduciary and consulting fees. Ken Fisher, USA TODAY, "401(k): 5 steps to wake up a napping retirement plan," 25 Mar. 2018 The company also faces a possible separate investigation into whether its wealth management division made improper referrals or recommendations to the company’s investment and fiduciary services businesses. USA TODAY, "Wells Fargo to be hit with $1B penalty: Report," 19 Apr. 2018 Specifically, the lawsuit accuses the hospital of breaching its fiduciary duty to protect patient privacy under Missouri law. Kelsey Ryan, kansascity, "Children’s Mercy faces class action lawsuit over data breach affecting thousands," 10 July 2018 The suit also accused his daughter Janice of conspiracy and breach of fiduciary duty. Gretchen Morgenson, WSJ, "Buzz Aldrin Fights Family For Control of His Space Legacy," 25 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

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 Her son, Kyle Johnson, filed court docs Friday nominating four fiduciaries to become his mom's conservators. Sydney Scott,, "The Quick Read: 'Star Trek' Star Nichelle Nichols Reportedly Suffering From Dementia," 7 May 2018 Others want to treat tech giants more as information fiduciaries, which have a legal responsibility to protect user data. Nellie Bowles, New York Times, "After Cambridge Analytica, Privacy Experts Get to Say ‘I Told You So’," 12 Apr. 2018 Facebook needs to act as a fiduciary for the information sharing it enables. Alan Murray, Fortune, "Facebook, Deutsche Bank, Rusal: CEO Daily for April 9, 2018," 9 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

23 Dec 2018

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

: 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 \
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

What made you want to look up fiduciary? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a complex dispute or argument

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