af·​firm ə-ˈfərm How to pronounce affirm (audio)
affirmed; affirming; affirms

transitive verb

: validate, confirm
He was affirmed as a candidate.
: to state positively
He affirmed his innocence.
: to assert (something, such as a judgment or decree) as valid or confirmed
The court affirmed his conviction.
: to show or express a strong belief in or dedication to (something, such as an important idea)
laws affirming the racial equality of all people

intransitive verb

: to testify or declare by affirmation (see affirmation sense 2) as distinguished from swearing an oath
: to uphold a judgment or decree of a lower court
affirmable adjective
affirmance noun
Choose the Right Synonym for affirm

assert, declare, affirm, protest, avow mean to state positively usually in anticipation of denial or objection.

assert implies stating confidently without need for proof or regard for evidence.

asserted that modern music is just noise

declare stresses open or public statement.

declared her support for the candidate

affirm implies conviction based on evidence, experience, or faith.

affirmed the existence of an afterlife

protest emphasizes affirming in the face of denial or doubt.

protested that he really had been misquoted

avow stresses frank declaration and acknowledgment of personal responsibility for what is declared.

avowed that all investors would be repaid in full

Example Sentences

We cannot affirm that this painting is genuine. They neither affirmed nor denied their guilt. laws affirming the racial equality of all peoples They continued to affirm their religious beliefs. The decision was affirmed by a higher court.
Recent Examples on the Web Davy hopes that Half Magic can affirm that self-exploration through makeup isn’t exclusively for Gen Z and millennials. Martine Thompson, Los Angeles Times, 14 Nov. 2022 The day has since been used to affirm and promote girls’ rights and shed light on the unique challenges girls face around the world. Dr. Ewelina U. Ochab, Forbes, 9 Oct. 2022 The full court could either affirm the lower court's decision and uphold the conviction or reverse the decision and vacate his conviction. Adam Reiss, NBC News, 25 Aug. 2022 And there are other kinds of endorsements tied to Born Pink, too, which affirm the album as a commercial project as much as a musical one. Time, 17 Sep. 2022 One of my biggest hopes is that Google will not only affirm that workers have the right to speak out, but also that its Palestinian workers have the right to bring their full selves to work. WIRED, 2 Sep. 2022 That will make Davis the master of ceremonies, of sorts, for baseball’s summer showcase and affirm his rise to the heady position Zager gave him four months ago. New York Times, 17 July 2022 The songs affirm that getting smoked is an inevitability in skateboarding, making music and living life, but that dusting off and trying again is often the only way through. Chris Kelly, Washington Post, 14 July 2022 There’s also a criminal trial’s ability to reflect and affirm societal values at hand. Lenora Chu, The Christian Science Monitor, 19 Oct. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'affirm.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


alteration (conformed to Latin affirmāre) of Middle English affermen "to fix firmly, make steadfast, establish, confirm, assert," borrowed from Anglo-French afermer, affermer, going back to Latin affirmāre "to strengthen, confirm, assert positively," from ad- ad- + firmāre "to strengthen, fortify," derivative of firmus "strong, durable, firm entry 1"

First Known Use

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

Time Traveler
The first known use of affirm was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near affirm

Cite this Entry

“Affirm.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition



af·​firm ə-ˈfərm How to pronounce affirm (audio)
: to state positively or with confidence

Legal Definition


transitive verb

af·​firm ə-ˈfərm How to pronounce affirm (audio)
: to assert as true or factual
: to assert (as a judgment) as valid or confirmed
affirmed the lower court's ruling
compare remand, reverse

intransitive verb

: to make a solemn declaration under the penalties of perjury in place of swearing an oath to which one conscientiously objects
: to uphold the judgment or actions of a lower court
the appeals court affirmed
affirmance noun
affirmation noun

More from Merriam-Webster on affirm

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