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 McGahn was a witness to many episodes described in the second volume of the Mueller report, which centered on potential obstruction of justice issues; his name appears there more than 500 times. BostonGlobe.com, 5 June 2021 Murphy was also the star prosecution witness against Drew at the murder trial. Andrea Marks, Rolling Stone, 28 May 2021 McGahn, who served as White House counsel during the Trump administration, was a key witness to Trump's potential obstruction of justice, according to Mueller's findings. Elie Honig, CNN, 25 May 2021 And Shelton was there, a witness to all the crucial moments of Dylan’s formative years: at Newport ’63, and at the celebrated Philharmonic Hall concert of Halloween 1964. Billboard Staff, Billboard, 24 May 2021 Goldman was also witness to another tense chapter in Buzbee’s Washington immersion. Washington Post, 19 May 2021 Dalton Blake, who joined the U.S. Army after Tibbett’s death and is stationed at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, was the next witness to take the stand Tuesday. Danielle Wallace, Fox News, 19 May 2021 Joel Greenberg likely to plead guilty Monday, could be witness against Rep. Matt Gaetz. Laura L. Davis, USA TODAY, 13 May 2021 Three women suspected of throwing a pig's head at the onetime home of a former California police officer who was a defense witness for Derek Chauvin have been arrested, police said Wednesday. Elisha Fieldstadt, NBC News, 13 May 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Rose Byrne and Tiffany Haddish is something to witness, and is even the highlight of the movie’s trailer. Marcus Jones, EW.com, 2 June 2021 Kilmeade joined Officer Thomas Greer for a ride-along in the Long Island county, allowing viewers to witness to the unpredictability of every traffic stop. Fox News, 12 May 2021 And elections officials would have to let candidates and other observers witness some key election night moments in the ballot-handling process. BostonGlobe.com, 6 May 2021 The Park Service will operate a live stream of the blossoms, dubbed the BloomCam, that will allow flower fans to witness the blooming from anywhere. Washington Post, 7 Mar. 2021 In Detroit, convoys of eight cars drove up the ramps of the Detroit Opera House garage, allowing passengers to witness scenes on six levels; each day of the run, the process was repeated twelve times. Alex Ross, The New Yorker, 26 Oct. 2020 Boston’s ordinance states that before crowd-control weapons can be used, a police supervisor must personally witness violence or property destruction and determine that no other reasonable methods of de-escalation will be successful, officials said. BostonGlobe.com, 13 May 2021 Elon Musk’s every word and action makes a huge impact on business (witness the Bitcoin announcement recently). Denise Brodey, Forbes, 13 May 2021 One personal story, witness the owner of a restaurant on Main Street that is currently shuttered due to COVID-19. baltimoresun.com/maryland/carroll, 7 May 2021

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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Time Traveler for witness

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for witness

Last Updated

8 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Witness.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/witness. Accessed 18 Jun. 2021.

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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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