[ wit-nis ]
/ ˈwɪt nɪs /
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See synonyms for: witness / witnessed / witnesses / witnessing on Thesaurus.com

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

First recordedbefore 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.


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


What does witness mean?

A witness is someone who was present at or perceives an incident, event, or occurrence, as in Jamal was a witness to the fact that I completed all my homework.

People who witness something typically do so through seeing, although they can also witness a smell or sound. In order to witness an event, one must simply be present at the time the event happened, even if the witness was not directly involved.

To witness something is to see, hear, sense, or know something, as in I witnessed our dog running out the door, but I didn’t see where she went.

To witness is also to testify or give evidence, especially in a court of law.

Example: The key witness in the theft case was a local shop owner.

Where does witness come from?

The first records of the term witness come from before 950. It comes from the Old English term witnes, meaning “knowledge” or “understanding.” One’s wit is their perception and expression of something, so witness means “to have wit about something.”

Witnesses are a key part of the legal system. Both sides can select witnesses to give their accounts of a case, and both sides get to question the witnesses about their statements. There are several types of witnesses. For example, an expert witness is someone who is educated in an area that is important to a case and can give a professional opinion, while a character witness is someone who is familiar with the litigant and can help build an image of their character.

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What are some other forms related to witness?

  • witnessable (adjective)
  • witnesser (noun)
  • prewitness (noun, verb)
  • self-witness (noun)
  • well-witnessed (adjective)

What are some synonyms for witness?

What are some words that share a root or word element with witness?

What are some words that often get used in discussing witness?

How is witness used in real life?

Witness as a noun is almost always used in a legal context and as a verb can be used in terms of both legal issues and common occurrences.


Try using witness!

Which of the following is NOT a synonym for witness?

A. see
B. watch
C. hide
D. observe

How to use witness in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for witness

/ (ˈwɪtnɪs) /


Derived forms of witness

witnessable, adjectivewitnesser, noun

Word Origin for witness

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