See more synonyms for witness 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.
  3. to bear witness to; testify to; give or afford evidence of.
  4. 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.
  3. a person who gives testimony, as in a court of law.
  4. a person who signs a document attesting the genuineness of its execution.
  5. testimony or evidence: to bear witness to her suffering.
  6. (initial capital letter) a member of the Jehovah's Witnesses.

Origin of witness

before 950; (noun) Middle English, Old English witnes orig., knowledge, understanding; see wit1, -ness; (v.) Middle English, derivative of the noun
Related formswit·ness·a·ble, adjectivewit·ness·er, nounpre·wit·ness, noun, verb (used with object)self-wit·ness, nounself-wit·nessed, adjectivewell-wit·nessed, adjective

Synonyms for witness

See more synonyms for on Thesaurus.com
1. perceive, watch, mark, notice, note. See observe. 10. proof, confirmation, substantiation.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for witness

Contemporary Examples of witness

Historical Examples of witness

  • Avice Milbrey had the fortune to witness one of these bed-time causeries.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • The reverential care bestowed on this grave is delightful to witness.

    The Roof of France

    Matilda Betham-Edwards

  • And then, as if they had been on the witness stand, he looked searchingly at Linda.

    Her Father's Daughter

    Gene Stratton-Porter

  • Same tone as if trying his best to encourage the witness in his statements.

    The Underdog

    F. Hopkinson Smith

  • Have done and witness, then go, order me horses and an escort, for I ride at once.

    Fair Margaret

    H. Rider Haggard

British Dictionary definitions for witness


  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
  3. a person who testifies, esp in a court of law, to events or facts within his own knowledge
  4. a person who attests to the genuineness of a document, signature, etc, by adding his own signature
  5. bear witness
    1. to give written or oral testimony
    2. to be evidence or proof ofRelated adjective: testimonial
  1. (tr) to see, be present at, or know at first hand
  2. to give or serve as evidence (of)
  3. (tr) to be the scene or setting ofthis field has witnessed a battle
  4. (intr) to testify, esp in a court of law, to events within a person's own knowledge
  5. (tr) to attest to the genuineness of (a document, signature, etc) by adding one's own signature
Derived Formswitnessable, 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

Word Origin and History for witness

Old English witnes "attestation of fact, event, etc., from personal knowledge;" also "one who so testifies;" originally "knowledge, wit," formed from wit (n.) + -ness. Christian use (late 14c.) is as a literal translation of Greek martys (see martyr). Witness stand is recorded from 1853.


c.1300, from witness (n.). Related: Witnessed; witnessing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper