Word of the Day : July 30, 2017

bona fides

noun boh-nuh-FYE-deez


1 : good faith : sincerity

2 : the fact of being genuine

3 : evidence of one's good faith or genuineness

4 : evidence of one's qualifications or achievements

Did You Know?

Bona fides looks like a plural word in English, but in Latin, it's a singular noun that literally means "good faith." When bona fides entered English, it at first stayed very close to its Latin use—it was found mostly in legal contexts and it meant "honesty or lawfulness of purpose," just as it did in Latin. It also retained its singular construction. Using this original sense one might speak of "a claimant whose bona fides is unquestionable." But in the 20th century, use of bona fides began to widen, and it began to appear with a plural verb in certain contexts. For example, a sentence such as "the informant's bona fides were ascertained" is now possible.


"While there are a myriad of other entrepreneurial self-help and motivational books, [William] Pickard said 'Millionaire Moves' is different in that he has the bona fides and balance sheet." — Mary M. Chapman, The Detroit News, 12 June 2017

"My grandfather Archie was a coal miner and a hard man when he needed to be. ... But I have no true working-class bona fides. My father attended West Virginia University law school and did well. My siblings and I had tennis lessons and orthodontia." — Dwight Garner, Esquire, 10 Jan. 2017

Test Your Vocabulary

What word can mean "credentials" and is only used in that sense in a phrase beginning with "letters of"?



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