witness

noun
wit·​ness | \ ˈwit-nəs How to pronounce witness (audio) \

Definition of witness

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : attestation of a fact or event : testimony
2 : one that gives evidence specifically : one who testifies in a cause or before a judicial tribunal
3 : one asked to be present at a transaction so as to be able to testify to its having taken place
4 : one who has personal knowledge of something
5a : something serving as evidence or proof : sign
b : public affirmation by word or example of usually religious faith or conviction the heroic witness to divine lifePilot
6 capitalized : a member of the Jehovah's Witnesses

witness

verb
witnessed; witnessing; witnesses

Definition of witness (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to testify to : attest
2 : to act as legal witness of
3 : to furnish proof of : betoken
4a : to have personal or direct cognizance of : see for oneself witnessed the historic event
b : to take note of our grammar— witness our verb system—is a marvel of flexibility, variety, and exactitude— Charlton Laird
5 : to constitute the scene or time of structures … which this striking Dorset hilltop once witnessedThe Times Literary Supplement (London)

intransitive verb

1 : to bear witness : testify
2 : to bear witness to one's religious convictions opportunity to witness for Christ— Billy Graham

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Choose the Right Synonym for witness

Verb

certify, attest, witness, vouch mean to testify to the truth or genuineness of something. certify usually applies to a written statement, especially one carrying a signature or seal. certified that the candidate had met all requirements attest applies to oral or written testimony usually from experts or witnesses. attested to the authenticity of the document witness applies to the subscribing of one's own name to a document as evidence of its genuineness. witnessed the signing of the will vouch applies to one who testifies as a competent authority or a reliable person. willing to vouch for her integrity

Examples of witness in a Sentence

Noun

The defense called its first witness to the stand. a witness for the defense His aunt and uncle were witnesses at his baptism. There must be two witnesses present when she signs the document.

Verb

Several people witnessed the accident. We are witnessing a historic moment. He witnessed the signing of her will.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

But protests erupted after Friday prayers, with pro-independence youth demonstrating before being repelled by tear gas and pellets, according to police sources, witnesses and footage shown by international broadcasters. NBC News, "India cracks down on Kashmir ahead of Muslim Eid festival," 11 Aug. 2019 Police are asking witnesses and anyone with relevant information to call the department’s Detective Bureau at 203-946-6304. Emily Brindley, courant.com, "New Haven pedestrian dies after hit by two vehicles," 11 Aug. 2019 According to witnesses and evidence, Daniels pulled up behind Snodgress at the store, blocking him in. Carol Robinson | Crobinson@al.com, al, "Man indicted on 21 crimes - sex abuse, murder, kidnapping, robbery - in March spree that killed 2," 9 Aug. 2019 No relief America has barely had time to pause, process and mourn the mass shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival a week ago before bearing witness to another massacre — and then, just like that, another. Taylor Kate Brown, SFChronicle.com, "Bay Briefing: Gilroy, El Paso, now Dayton," 5 Aug. 2019 His claim, contradicted by other witnesses and the autopsy: that the man buried did not have a scar on his leg which Dillinger received in a shootout with FBI agents. Dawn Mitchell, Indianapolis Star, "John Dillinger's last meal included red peppers. What we know about the outlaw's autopsy and burial.," 2 Aug. 2019 Any witnesses, or citizens with information, are urged to call the Racine Police Department Investigations Unit at (262) 635-7756. Keith Schubert, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "A suspected drunk driver hit and killed one man late Tuesday night in Racine County, police say," 31 July 2019 The Judiciary Committee has been flirting with the topic of impeachment for months, subpoenaing witnesses and holding hearings designed to better understand Trump’s behavior and potentially develop charges against him. Nicholas Fandos, BostonGlobe.com, "Raising prospect of impeaching Trump, House seeks Mueller’s grand jury secrets," 26 July 2019 The jury considered emotional statements from Jones and Wiley, as well as testimony from investigators, expert witnesses and the two business owners who called police to report Jones as a suspicious person in their parking lot. Dallas News, "Former Mesquite cop not guilty of aggravated assault for shooting unarmed man he mistook for burglar," 22 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The King County Sheriff’s Office, which is investigating the collision, is asking those who witnessed the collision or know someone who did to call 206-263-2140. Asia Fields, The Seattle Times, "Witnesses to SeaTac shuttle bus crash sought," 8 Aug. 2019 At the hospital, Trump was accompanied by Brown, Whaley, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R), Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Rep. Michael R. Turner (R-Ohio) and Turner’s daughter, who witnessed the shooting. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Trump arrives in El Paso after staying largely out of public view in Dayton," 7 Aug. 2019 The church was packed with congregants who had witnessed our story unfold. Los Angeles Times, "L.A. Affairs: I hated him ... no way that would change ... no way," 3 Aug. 2019 Anyone who witnessed the shooting or has any knowledge of the shooting was asked to contact the ISP, 847-294-4400. Rosemary Sobol, chicagotribune.com, "2 men shot on Stony Island feeder ramp," 2 Aug. 2019 For some people, however, spectacular deaths of a supposedly heroic nature seem to have a bizarre magnetism—think Everest—particularly for those who have never witnessed the horror of such events. Mark Jenkins, National Geographic, "How the pursuit of one European peak gave rise to modern mountaineering," 1 Aug. 2019 PrayforGilroy Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families, and all who witnessed this tragic and senseless act of violence. Linda Zavoral, The Mercury News, "World reacts to the Gilroy Garlic Festival shooting on social media," 29 July 2019 Mack said there is no information available about possible suspects at this time and is encouraging anyone who witnessed the incident to call CrimeStoppers at 513-352-3040. Cameron Knight, Cincinnati.com, "Police investigating after man shot in the face while in a moving car in Walnut Hills," 29 July 2019 Her now-8-year-old son, who witnessed much of the incident inside the church, wakes up with nightmares, according to his grandmother. Ryan Martin, Indianapolis Star, "After a woman died in IMPD custody, an autopsy report leaves more questions," 25 July 2019

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

Noun

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

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

History and Etymology for witness

Noun

Middle English witnesse, from Old English witnes knowledge, testimony, witness, from wit entry 1

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Statistics for witness

Last Updated

15 Aug 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for witness

The first known use of witness was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for witness

witness

noun

English Language Learners Definition of witness

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a person who sees something (such as a crime) happen
law : a person who makes a statement in a court about what he or she knows or has seen
: a person who is present at an event (such as a wedding) and can say that it happened

witness

verb

English Language Learners Definition of witness (Entry 2 of 2)

: to see (something) happen
law : to be present at (an event) in order to be able to say that it happened : to act as a legal witness of (something)
: to be the time or place when (something) happens

witness

noun
wit·​ness | \ ˈwit-nəs How to pronounce witness (audio) \

Kids Definition of witness

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a person who sees or otherwise has personal knowledge of something witnesses of an accident
2 : a person who gives testimony in court
3 : a person who is present at an action (as the signing of a will) so as to be able to say who did it
4 : testimony He gave false witness in court.

witness

verb
witnessed; witnessing

Kids Definition of witness (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to see or gain personal knowledge of something
2 : to act as a witness to I witnessed the signing of the will.
3 : to be or give proof of Their actions witness their guilt.

witness

noun
wit·​ness

Legal Definition of witness

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1a : attestation of a fact or event in witness whereof the parties have executed this release
b : evidence (as of the authenticity of a conveyance by deed) furnished by signature, oath, or seal
2 : one who gives evidence regarding matters of fact under inquiry specifically : one who testifies or is legally qualified to testify in a case or to give evidence before a judicial tribunal or similar inquiry a witness before a congressional committee no person…shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself U.S. Constitution amend. V — compare affiant, deponent
adverse witness
: a witness who is called by or associated with an opposing party or who by statement, conduct, or other evidence (as of relationship) shows bias against or is injurious to the case of the party by whom the witness is called sought to have his witness declared an adverse witness subject to impeachment

called also hostile witness

— see also leading question at question sense 1
alibi witness
: a witness upon whom a criminal defendant relies in establishing an alibi
character witness
: a witness who testifies as to the character or reputation especially of a criminal defendant : a witness who gives character evidence
expert witness
: a witness (as a medical specialist) who by virtue of special knowledge, skill, training, or experience is qualified to provide testimony to aid the factfinder in matters that exceed the common knowledge of ordinary people
hostile witness
: adverse witness in this entry
lay witness
: a witness who is not an expert witness
material witness
: a witness whose testimony is necessary for trial and whose presence may sometimes be secured by the state by subpoena, custody, or recognizance
prosecuting witness
: a witness (as the victim of a crime) whose own allegations initiate the prosecution of the defendant
qualified witness
: a witness who has sufficient understanding of a record-keeping system to provide testimony that forms the proper foundation for admission of evidence under the business records exception to the hearsay rule
rebuttal witness
: a witness called upon to rebut evidence already presented
3 : one who is called on to be present at a transaction so as to be able to testify to its occurrence specifically : one who sees the execution of an instrument and signs it to confirm its authenticity a witness to a will
4 : eyewitness a witness to an assault
bear witness
: to furnish or constitute proof or evidence

witness

transitive verb

Legal Definition of witness (Entry 2 of 3)

1 : to furnish evidence or proof of
2 : to act as witness of: as
a : to see the execution of (an instrument) and sign for the purpose of establishing authenticity witness a will
b : to be formally present as a witness of (as a transaction or the execution of a convict)
3a : to see or experience directly
b : to take note of

intransitive verb

: to bear witness : give evidence

witness

adjective

Legal Definition of witness (Entry 3 of 3)

: being an object or location used to ascertain a precise boundary point especially on a corner of a tract when marking that point itself is impracticable or impossible a witness tree a witness corner

History and Etymology for witness

Noun

Old English witnes knowledge, testimony, witness, from wit mind, sense, knowledge

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