[ wit-nis ]
See synonyms for: witnesswitnessedwitnesseswitnessing on Thesaurus.com

verb (used with object)
  1. to see, hear, or know by personal presence and perception: to witness an accident.

  2. to be present at (an occurrence) as a formal witness, spectator, bystander, etc.: She witnessed our wedding.

  1. to bear witness to; testify to; give or afford evidence of.

  2. to attest by one's signature: He witnessed her will.

verb (used without object)
  1. to bear witness; testify; give or afford evidence.

  1. an individual who, being present, personally sees or perceives a thing; a beholder, spectator, or eyewitness.

  2. a person or thing that affords evidence.

  1. a person who gives testimony, as in a court of law.

  2. a person who signs a document attesting the genuineness of its execution.

  3. testimony or evidence: to bear witness to her suffering.

  4. (initial capital letter) a member of the Jehovah's Witnesses.

Origin of witness

First recorded before 950; (noun) Middle English, Old English witnes originally, “knowledge, understanding”; see wit1, -ness; (verb) Middle English, derivative of the noun

synonym study For witness

1. See observe.

Other words for witness

Other words from witness

  • wit·ness·a·ble, adjective
  • wit·ness·er, noun
  • pre·wit·ness, noun, verb (used with object)
  • self-wit·ness, noun
  • self-wit·nessed, adjective
  • well-wit·nessed, adjective

Words Nearby witness

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use witness in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for witness


/ (ˈwɪtnɪs) /

  1. a person who has seen or can give first-hand evidence of some event

  2. a person or thing giving or serving as evidence

  1. a person who testifies, esp in a court of law, to events or facts within his own knowledge

  2. a person who attests to the genuineness of a document, signature, etc, by adding his own signature

  3. bear witness

    • to give written or oral testimony

    • to be evidence or proof of: Related adjective: testimonial

  1. (tr) to see, be present at, or know at first hand

  2. to give or serve as evidence (of)

  1. (tr) to be the scene or setting of: this field has witnessed a battle

  2. (intr) to testify, esp in a court of law, to events within a person's own knowledge

  3. (tr) to attest to the genuineness of (a document, signature, etc) by adding one's own signature

Origin of witness

Old English witnes (meaning both testimony and witness), from witan to know, wit ² + -ness; related to Old Norse vitni

Derived forms of witness

  • witnessable, adjective
  • witnesser, noun

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012