1

witness

play
noun wit·ness \ ˈwit-nəs \

Definition of witness

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
5 a :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 life
  • Pilot
6 capitalized :a member of the Jehovah's Witnesses

Examples of witness in a Sentence

  1. The defense called its first witness to the stand.

  2. a witness for the defense

  3. His aunt and uncle were witnesses at his baptism.

  4. There must be two witnesses present when she signs the document.

Recent Examples of witness from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of witness

Middle English witnesse, from Old English witnes knowledge, testimony, witness, from 2wit


2

witness

verb

Definition of witness

transitive verb
1 :to testify to :attest
2 :to act as legal witness of
3 :to furnish proof of :betoken
4 a :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 witnessed
  • The 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

Examples of witness in a Sentence

  1. Several people witnessed the accident.

  2. We are witnessing a historic moment.

  3. He witnessed the signing of her will.

Recent Examples of witness from the Web

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.

First Known Use of witness

14th century

witness Synonyms

Synonym Discussion of witness

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


WITNESS Defined for English Language Learners

witness

play
noun

Definition of witness for English Language Learners

  • : 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

Definition of witness for English Language Learners

  • : 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 Defined for Kids

1

witness

play
noun wit·ness \ ˈwit-nəs \

Definition of witness for Students

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.

2

witness

verb

Definition of witness for Students

witnessed; witnessing
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.

Law Dictionary

1

witness

noun wit·ness

legal Definition of witness

1 a :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 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

Origin and Etymology of witness

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


2

witness

transitive verb

legal Definition of witness

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)
3 a :to see or experience directly
b :to take note of
intransitive verb
:to bear witness :give evidence

3

witness

adjective

legal Definition of witness

: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


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