witness

1 of 2

noun

wit·​ness ˈwit-nəs How to pronounce witness (audio)
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 lifePilot
6
capitalized : a member of the Jehovah's Witnesses

witness

2 of 2

verb

witnessed; witnessing; witnesses

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 exactitudeCharlton 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 ChristBilly Graham
Choose the Right Synonym for 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

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.
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
But Carell steers clear of anything resembling a star turn, preferring instead to be a witness to these theatrical proceedings until the crucial showdown with Alexander, whose titanic self-absorption Molina captures to perfection. Charles McNulty, Los Angeles Times, 9 May 2024 Any witnesses to this crash are asked to contact the Cincinnati Police Department’s Traffic Unit at 513-352-2514. Jennie Key, The Enquirer, 8 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for witness 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'witness.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Noun

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

First Known Use

Noun

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

Verb

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near witness

Cite this Entry

“Witness.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/witness. Accessed 21 May. 2024.

Kids Definition

witness

1 of 2 noun
wit·​ness ˈwit-nəs How to pronounce witness (audio)
1
: testimony sense 1
bear false witness
2
: one who gives evidence especially before a court of law
3
a
: one present at an action (as a wedding) who can testify to its having taken place
b
: one who has personal knowledge or experience of something
4
a
: something serving as evidence or proof : sign
b
: public affirmation of usually religious conviction

witness

2 of 2 verb
1
: to give testimony to : testify
2
: to act as legal witness of
witness a document
3
: to be or give proof of
their actions witness their guilt
4
: to have personal knowledge of : see for oneself
had witnessed the accident
5
: to publicly assert one's religious convictions

Legal Definition

witness

1 of 3 noun
wit·​ness
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 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

witness

2 of 3 transitive verb
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

witness

3 of 3 adjective
: 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
Etymology

Noun

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

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