vouchsafed; vouchsafing

transitive verb

: to grant or furnish often in a gracious or condescending manner
: to give by way of reply
refused to vouchsafe an explanation
: to grant as a privilege or special favor
vouchsafement noun

Did you know?

Shakespeare fans are well acquainted with vouchsafe, which in its Middle English form vouchen sauf meant "to grant, consent, or deign." The word, which was borrowed with its present meaning from Anglo-French in the 14th century, pops up fairly frequently in the Bard's work—60 times, to be exact. "Vouchsafe me yet your picture for my love," beseeches Proteus of Silvia in The Two Gentlemen of Verona. "Vouchsafe me raiment, bed, and food," King Lear begs his daughter Regan. But you needn't turn to Shakespeare to find vouchsafe—today's writers also find it to be a perfectly useful word.

Choose the Right Synonym for vouchsafe

grant, concede, vouchsafe, accord, award mean to give as a favor or a right.

grant implies giving to a claimant or petitioner something that could be withheld.

granted them a new hearing

concede implies yielding something reluctantly in response to a rightful or compelling claim.

even her critics concede she can be charming

vouchsafe implies granting something as a courtesy or an act of gracious condescension.

vouchsafed the secret to only a few chosen disciples

accord implies giving to another what is due or proper.

accorded all the honors befitting a head of state

award implies giving what is deserved or merited usually after a careful weighing of pertinent factors.

awarded the company a huge defense contract

Examples of vouchsafe in a Sentence

He vouchsafed the secret to only a few chosen disciples.
Recent Examples on the Web That’s why Phony Wars speaks to us in codes, an artist vouchsafing his feelings and intentions. Armond White, National Review, 29 Sep. 2023 Constitutionally speaking, the main reason for having federal law enforcement is to vouchsafe interstate and international commerce. The Editors, National Review, 20 Jan. 2022 Consider a test-tube example, almost ordered up to make the court’s case for it, vouchsafed by California just a few weeks ago. Holman W. Jenkins, WSJ, 6 July 2018

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'vouchsafe.' 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 vouchen sauf to grant, consent, deign, from Anglo-French voucher salf

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of vouchsafe was in the 14th century


Dictionary Entries Near vouchsafe

Cite this Entry

“Vouchsafe.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/vouchsafe. Accessed 30 Nov. 2023.

Kids Definition


vouchsafed; vouchsafing
: to grant as a special favor

More from Merriam-Webster on vouchsafe

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!