What does witness mean?

Definitions for witness
ˈwɪt nɪswit·ness

This dictionary definitions page includes all the possible meanings, example usage and translations of the word witness.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. witness, witnesser, informantnoun

    someone who sees an event and reports what happened

  2. spectator, witness, viewer, watcher, lookernoun

    a close observer; someone who looks at something (such as an exhibition of some kind)

    "the spectators applauded the performance"; "television viewers"; "sky watchers discovered a new star"

  3. witnessnoun

    testimony by word or deed to your religious faith

  4. witness, attestant, attestor, attestatornoun

    (law) a person who attests to the genuineness of a document or signature by adding their own signature

  5. witnessverb

    (law) a person who testifies under oath in a court of law

  6. witnessverb

    be a witness to

    "She witnessed the accident and had to testify in court"

  7. witness, find, seeverb

    perceive or be contemporaneous with

    "We found Republicans winning the offices"; "You'll see a lot of cheating in this school"; "The 1960's saw the rebellion of the younger generation against established traditions"; "I want to see results"


  1. witnessnoun

    Attestation of a fact or event; the quality of witting something.

    She can bear witness, since she was there at the time.

  2. witnessnoun

    One who has a personal knowledge of something.

    As a witness to the event, I can tell you that he really said that.

  3. witnessnoun

    Someone called to give evidence in a court.

    The witness for the prosecution did not seem very credible.

  4. witnessnoun

    Something that serves as evidence; a sign.

  5. witnessverb

    To furnish proof of, to show.

    This certificate witnesses his presence on that day.

  6. witnessverb

    To take as evidence.

  7. witnessverb

    To see, note, or gain knowledge of.

    He witnessed the accident.

  8. witnessverb

    To present personal religious testimony; to preach at (someone) or on behalf of.

    "I don't really want to be actively harrassed (I mean witnessed to) (...)"uE000152870uE001

  9. Etymology: From witnesse, from witnes, equivalent to. Cognate with wetenisse, gewiznessi.

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. Witnessinterj.

    An exclamation signifying that person or thing may attest it.

    For want of words, or lack of breath,
    Witness, when I was worried with thy peels. John Milton.

  2. Witnessnoun

    Etymology: witnesse , Saxon.

    The devil can cite scripture for his purpose;
    An evil soul producing holy witness,
    Is like a villain with a smiling cheek;
    A goodly apple rotten at the heart. William Shakespeare.

    May we, with the warrant of womanhood, and the witness of a good conscience, pursue him any further revenge? William Shakespeare.

    If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true. John.

    The spirit beareth witness with our spirit that we are the children of God. Rom. viii. 16.

    Many bare false witness, but their witness agreed not. Mar.

    Nor was long his witness unconfirmed. John Milton.

    Ye moon and stars bear witness to the truth!
    His only crime, if friendship can offend,
    Is too much love to his unhappy friend. John Dryden, Æneid.

    Our senses bear witness to the truth of each others report, concerning the existence of sensible things. John Locke.

    The king’s attorney
    Urg’d on examinations, proofs, confessions
    Of divers witnesses. William Shakespeare, Henry VIII.

    God is witness betwixt me and thee. Gen. xxxi. 50.

    Thy trial choose
    With me, best witness of thy virtue try’d. John Milton.

    A fat benefice became a crime, and witness too against its incumbent. Decay of Piety.

    Nor need I speak my deeds, for these you see;
    The sun and day are witnesses for me. Dryden.

    Here was a blessing handed out with the first pairs of animals at their creation; and it had effect with a witness. Wood.

    Now gall is bitter with a witness;
    And love is all delight and sweetness. Matthew Prior.

  3. To Witnessverb

    To attest.

    Etymology: from the noun.

    There ran a rumour
    Of many worthy fellows that were out,
    Which was to my belief witness’d the rather,
    For that I saw the tyrant’s power a-foot. William Shakespeare.

    Hearest thou not how many things they witness against thee? John xxvii. 13.

    Though by the father he were hir’d to this,
    He ne’er could witness any touch or kiss. John Donne.

    These be those discourses of God, whose effects those that live witness in themselves; the sensible in their sensible natures, the reasonable in their reasonable souls. Walter Raleigh.

  4. To Witnessverb

    To bear testimony.

    The sea strave with the winds which should be louder, and the shrouds of the ship with a ghastly noise to them that were in it, witnessed that their ruin was the wager of the others contention. Philip Sidney.

    Mine eye doth his effigies witness,
    Most truly limn’d and living in your face. William Shakespeare.

    Witness you ever-burning lights above!
    You elements that clip us round about!
    Witness that here Iago now doth give
    The execution of his wit, hands and heart,
    To Othello’s service. William Shakespeare, Othello.

    Shall witness I set forth as soon as you,
    And even but now return’d. William Shakespeare.

    I witness to
    The times that brought them in. William Shakespeare.

    Another beareth witness of me, and I know that the witness which he witnesseth of me is true. John v. 32.

    The Americans do acknowledge and speak of the deluge in their continent, as Acosta witnesseth, and Laet in the histories of them. Thomas Burnet, Theory of the Earth.

    Witness, ye heav’ns! I live not by my fault,
    I strove to have deserv’d the death I sought John Dryden, Æneid.

    Lord Falkland witnesses for me, that in a book there were many subjects that I had thought on for the stage. Dryden.

    Witness for me ye awful gods,
    I took not arms till urg’d by self-defence,
    The eldest law of nature. Nicholas Rowe.


  1. Witness

    A witness is someone who has knowledge about a matter. In law a witness is someone who, either voluntarily or under compulsion, provides testimonial evidence, either oral or written, of what he or she knows or claims to know. A percipient witness (or eyewitness) is one with knowledge obtained through his or her own senses (e.g., visual perception, hearing, smell, touch). That perception might be either with the unaided human sense or with the aid of an instrument, such as microscope or stethoscope. A hearsay witness is one who testifies about what someone else said or wrote. In most court proceedings there are many limitations on when hearsay evidence is admissible. Such limitations do not apply to grand jury investigations, many administrative proceedings, and may not apply to declarations used in support of an arrest or search warrant. Also some types of statements are not deemed to be hearsay and are not subject to such limitations. An expert witness is one who allegedly has specialized knowledge relevant to the matter of interest, which knowledge purportedly helps to either make sense of other evidence, including other testimony, documentary evidence or physical evidence (e.g., a fingerprint). An expert witness may or may not also be a percipient witness, as in a doctor or may or may not have treated the victim of an accident or crime. A reputation witness is one who testifies about the reputation of a person or business entity, when reputation is material to the dispute at issue. They are a person who aids that because of a persons interactions and personality the defendant is guilty/innocent In law a witness might be compelled to provide testimony in court, before a grand jury, before an administrative tribunal, before a deposition officer, or in a variety of other legal proceedings. A subpoena is a legal document that commands a person to appear at a proceeding. It is used to compel the testimony of a witness in a trial. Usually, it can be issued by a judge or by the lawyer representing the plaintiff or the defendant in a civil trial or by the prosecutor or the defense attorney in a criminal proceeding, or by a government agency. In many jurisdictions, it is compulsory to comply and with the subpoena and either take an oath or solemely affirm to testify truthfully under penalty of perjury. Although informally a witness includes whoever perceived the event, in law, a witness is different from an informant. A confidential informant is someone who claimed to have witnessed an event or have hearsay information, but whose identity is being withheld from at least one party (typically the criminal defendant). The information from the confidential informant may have been used by a police officer or other official acting as a hearsay witness to obtain a search warrant.


  1. witness

    Witness is a person who sees an event, typically a crime or accident, take place. It can also refer to a person who gives testimony, as in a court of law, or evidence of something. Additionally, in a legal context, it can mean a person who signs a document, like a contract or a will, verifying that they have observed the signer who they believe to be competent and to have committed that signature willingly.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Witnessverb

    attestation of a fact or an event; testimony

  2. Witnessverb

    that which furnishes evidence or proof

  3. Witnessverb

    one who is cognizant; a person who beholds, or otherwise has personal knowledge of, anything; as, an eyewitness; an earwitness

  4. Witnessverb

    one who testifies in a cause, or gives evidence before a judicial tribunal; as, the witness in court agreed in all essential facts

  5. Witnessverb

    one who sees the execution of an instrument, and subscribes it for the purpose of confirming its authenticity by his testimony; one who witnesses a will, a deed, a marriage, or the like

  6. Witnessverb

    to see or know by personal presence; to have direct cognizance of

  7. Witnessverb

    to give testimony to; to testify to; to attest

  8. Witnessverb

    to see the execution of, as an instrument, and subscribe it for the purpose of establishing its authenticity; as, to witness a bond or a deed

  9. Witnessverb

    to bear testimony; to give evidence; to testify

  10. Etymology: [AS. witness, gewitnes, from witan to know. 133. See Wit, v. i.]


  1. Witness

    A witness is someone who has, who claims to have, or is thought, by someone with authority to compel testimony, to have knowledge relevant to an event or other matter of interest. In law a witness is someone who, either voluntarily or under compulsion, provides testimonial evidence, either oral or written, of what he or she knows or claims to know about the matter before some official authorized to take such testimony. A percipient witness or eyewitness is one who testifies what they perceived through his or her senses. That perception might be either with the unaided human sense or with the aid of an instrument, e.g., microscope or stethoscope, or by other scientific means, e.g.,a chemical reagent which changes color in the presence of a particular substance. A hearsay witness is one who testifies what someone else said or wrote. In most court proceedings there are many limitations on when hearsay evidence is admissible. Such limitations do not apply to grand jury investigations, many administrative proceedings, and may not apply to declarations used in support of an arrest or search warrant. Also some types of statements are not deemed to be hearsay and are not subject to such limitations.

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Witness

    wit′nes, n. knowledge brought in proof: testimony of a fact: that which furnishes proof: one who sees or has personal knowledge of a thing: one who attests.—v.t. to have direct knowledge of: to see: to give testimony to: to show: (Shak.) to foretell.—v.i. to give evidence.—ns. Wit′ness-box, the enclosure in which a witness stands when giving evidence in a court of law; Wit′nesser.—With a witness (Shak.), to a great degree. [A.S. witnes, testimony—witan, to know.]

Military Dictionary and Gazetteer

  1. witness

    One who testifies in a cause, or gives evidence before a judicial tribunal; one who gives testimony. Every judge-advocate of a court-martial or court of inquiry has power to issue the like process, to compel witnesses to appear and testify, which courts of criminal jurisdiction within the State, Territory, or District where such military courts are ordered to sit may lawfully issue. For oath administered to witnesses, depositions, etc., see Appendix, Articles of War, 91, 92, and 118.

Suggested Resources

  1. witness

    Song lyrics by witness -- Explore a large variety of song lyrics performed by witness on the Lyrics.com website.

British National Corpus

  1. Written Corpus Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'witness' in Written Corpus Frequency: #4365

  2. Nouns Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'witness' in Nouns Frequency: #1287

  3. Verbs Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'witness' in Verbs Frequency: #701

How to pronounce witness?

How to say witness in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of witness in Chaldean Numerology is: 9

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of witness in Pythagorean Numerology is: 1

Examples of witness in a Sentence

  1. Ted Cruz:

    I have never seen the chairman refuse to allow a witness to answer a question, you can bang it as loud as you want.

  2. Jillian Lauren:

    I am a witness to the fact that The Playboy Sultan was drinking, was committing adultery, was not exactly living on the straight and narrow.

  3. Your Child:

    Parents say 'Be nice!' and then they contribute to the exclusion of low-status, 'unpopular/weird' kids in the way they form car pools; allow parties to come together; witness exclusion and do nothing about it; or even join in mean behavior by gossiping along with their kids.

  4. Population Modeler Dr Deborah Pardo:

    You are completely blown away by the beauty and scale of things, you witness how Antarctica is the symbol of the human footprint on the planet and you want to protect it even more.

  5. Juliette Gust:

    There is tremendous negative pressure on police officers with regard to whistleblowing on fellow officers. Whistleblowers risk the threat of harsh penalties such as retaliation, ostracization, and harassment, an officer may be the only witness to a partners alleged misconduct, making the identification of the whistleblower obvious to all. Furthermore, the power of collective bargaining agreements between a city and its officers union has also been under scrutiny in recent days for prohibiting anonymous reporting.

Popularity rank by frequency of use


Translations for witness

From our Multilingual Translation Dictionary

  • شاهدArabic
  • шаһитBashkir
  • testimoni, veure, provar, evidència, testimoniatge, contemplar, atestat, testificar, provaCatalan, Valencian
  • svědectví, svědekCzech
  • vidneDanish
  • Zeuge, bezeugen, ZeuginGerman
  • ɖaseɖiɖi, ɖasedilaEwe
  • μάρτυραςGreek
  • atestantoEsperanto
  • prueba, testificar, probar, testimonio, testigoSpanish
  • شاهدPersian
  • todistaa, todistaja, todistus, todiste, osoittaaFinnish
  • témoignage, témoigner, témoin, preuveFrench
  • fianaiseIrish
  • neach-fianais, fianaisScottish Gaelic
  • गवाहHindi
  • tanúsít, szemtanú, tanúságtétel, fültanú, tanú, tanúságHungarian
  • վկայել, վկայություն, ականատես, հաստատել, վկաArmenian
  • saksiIndonesian
  • essere testimone, testimoniare, testimonianzaItalian
  • 証人, 証, 目撃者Japanese
  • 証人, 목격자, 目擊者, 증인Korean
  • mataaraMāori
  • getuigenis, getuigeDutch
  • vitneNorwegian
  • świadectwo, świadekPolish
  • prova, testemunhar, presenciar, provar, testemunha, testemunhoPortuguese
  • martorRomanian
  • свидетельстовать, свидетельница, понятой, подтверждать, свидетельство, свидетель, очевидец, подтвердитьRussian
  • svjèdok, svjedòčiti, svjedočánstvo, svjedòkinjaSerbo-Croatian
  • svedkomSlovak
  • vittnesmål, bevittna, vittna om, vittneSwedish
  • shahidiSwahili
  • సాక్షిTelugu
  • گواہUrdu

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    light informal conversation for social occasions
    A defilement
    B profaneness
    C squint-eye
    D chin-wag

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