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 Fink goes on to elaborate how sustainability fits with the company's fiduciary duty. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "Major investment firm to prioritize sustainability, back off coal," 14 Jan. 2020 The companies were charged with intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence, and breach of fiduciary duty, according to court documents. Sarah Midkiff,, "Leaving Neverland Accusers Can Sue For Sexual Abuse, After A Change To This California Law," 6 Jan. 2020 Now 36, Kessinger is one of eight men suing the Boy Scouts of America for negligence, fraud and breach of fiduciary duty in a case that could spark many more. Evan Simko-bednarski And Arman Azad, CNN, "Latest sexual abuse suit against the Boy Scouts of America could open the door to many more," 6 Jan. 2020 The Baltimore County Council agreed last month to allow the county to serve in the fiduciary role and on Tuesday approved a 10-year rental agreement for the Strike Force’s new headquarters worth more than $16 million. Washington Post, "New federal ‘Strike Force’ will target Baltimore drug gangs," 5 Sep. 2019 An earlier proposal to have the city of Annapolis serve the fiduciary role fell apart, delaying the project, officials acknowledged. Baltimore Sun Staff,, "Feds and Baltimore police unveil a permanent ‘Strike Force’ targeting local drug gangs and foreign suppliers," 4 Sep. 2019 Second, if there is a recession, CEO activists will struggle to reconcile the interests of employees and their fiduciary duty to shareholders. The Economist, "The World in 2020 Bosses will pay a price for mixing politics and corporate values," 26 Dec. 2019 The four patients accuse the health system of negligence, invasion of privacy, breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty stemming from the Oct. 1 attack that shut down the three-hospital system to non-critical patients for 10 days. Howard Koplowitz |, al, "DCH Health System patients file federal suit over ransomware attack," 23 Dec. 2019 Citing the same obstructions to shareholder voting rights, the second claim alleges breach of contract and the third, a violation of fiduciary duties. Frederick Melo, Twin Cities, "Otto Bremer Trust responds to Bremer lawsuit with counterclaims," 9 Dec. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Look for advisers who are fiduciaries, meaning they are required to put your interests ahead of theirs. Liz Weston, Dallas News, "How bad financial advice costs you money," 8 Jan. 2020 Nevada, for example, requires brokers to function as fiduciaries; Massachusetts is preparing its own fiduciary rule; and New Jersey is setting its own investment-advice standards. Barry Ritholtz,, "SEC’s new ‘best interest’ rule is just a guideline, and not best for investors," 24 June 2019 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

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

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The first known use of fiduciary was in 1631

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Last Updated

21 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Fiduciary.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 23 January 2020.

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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

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


out of the ordinary or unreasonable

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