Definition of witness in English:

witness

noun

  • 1A person who sees an event, typically a crime or accident, take place.

    ‘police are appealing for witnesses to the accident’
    ‘I was witness to one of the most amazing comebacks in sprinting history’
    • ‘Officials say the shirts are intended to intimidate witnesses to crime.’
    • ‘Later, the authorities said the soldiers might have been witnesses to a crime committed by others.’
    • ‘This normally takes the form of two witnesses to the crime or one witness and corroborating evidence, usually in the form of forensic evidence.’
    • ‘There were no independent witnesses to the accident which occurred on the main Cork-Bandon road.’
    • ‘Any witnesses to the accident, who saw either vehicle before it, should call Beverley Police Station on 01482 597900.’
    • ‘Police have now issued a picture of Mr Goldman in a bid to get as many witnesses to the crime or the immediate aftermath to come forward to help them in their investigations.’
    • ‘Traffic officer PC Mark Pearce is asking witnesses to the accident to call 01245 452918’
    • ‘The quotations above are from various witnesses to that event.’
    • ‘Police are appealing for any witnesses to the accident to contact them at Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.’
    • ‘Unfortunately it's a very high traffic area and not only would there be tons of witnesses to my crime, my life would have been endangered by speeding cars passing by.’
    • ‘Police are trying to trace the driver of the red Nissan and are appealing for witnesses to the accident at 8.45 pm on Friday to contact them on 856 6121.’
    • ‘There were no witnesses to the crime but if anyone has any further information then please contact the Det Sgt Willmott on 01268 511212.’
    • ‘Sgt Bussey has now appealed for witnesses to the accident.’
    • ‘I am appealing to any witnesses to the accident to come forward.’
    • ‘The quality cannot be guaranteed, but they come from all corners to the Cork county final, knowing they are witnesses to a unique event.’
    • ‘But when I talked to them, none of the witnesses to the crime had done so.’
    • ‘Sgt Desmond appealed for witnesses to the crime to come forward.’
    • ‘The witnesses to the accident agreed never to reveal who had slipped first, but according to Slesser both men ‘were an accident waiting to happen’.’
    • ‘He also says there were valuable witnesses to that crime.’
    • ‘The problem was that there were no witnesses to the crime.’
    observer, onlooker, looker-on, eyewitness, spectator, viewer, watcher
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 A person giving sworn testimony to a court of law or the police.
      • ‘The Trial Chamber heard testimony from about 30 witnesses who survived the brutality, and who reported the frequent killings and torture.’
      • ‘Not having seen the witnesses, the appellate court cannot easily form a view about their general credibility.’
      • ‘The evidence consisted of admissions, exhibits and the testimony of two police witnesses.’
      • ‘What is relevant is to consider, does this statement tend to challenge or contradict the testimony of the witness?’
      • ‘The defense also subpoenaed several police officers as defense witnesses who evidently were not taken into account in making the first estimate.’
      • ‘And finally, the suspect might have police witnesses who are willing to testify about mix-ups in the evidence lockers.’
      • ‘But because they are about acceptance of the testimony of the witnesses, they build up the credibility of the complainant.’
      • ‘All of the police witnesses who testified were candid in their evidence that the seizure of the clothing was unrelated to the burglary tool charge.’
      • ‘The said witness gave a statement to the police as well as testimony at trial.’
      • ‘Although referred to by the witness Police Constable Fagin during the course of her testimony the print out was not produced in evidence before me.’
      • ‘‘Out of all the statements police take from witnesses, only a minority of those go to court,’ he said.’
      • ‘After more objections from the Attorney-General and Solicitor General, the Court held the witness's testimony inadmissible.’
      • ‘He is due to appear before the High Court on October 20, where he will argue new evidence has been unearthed to discredit the testimony of a key witness in his trial.’
      • ‘Defendants, witnesses, solicitors, police officers and probation officers will then have to travel 25 miles across Salisbury Plain.’
      • ‘Judges, lawyers, police officers and witnesses already complain about the frequent delays and adjournments in court.’
      • ‘Sinclair complained that the Crown had failed to disclose a police statement that was inconsistent with evidence the witness gave in court.’
      • ‘Plans are being drawn up to issue police witnesses in court cases with a mobile phone to summon them to the witness stand just before they are needed with a simple text message.’
      • ‘In the following section of the case stated the magistrates summarise the testimony of the witnesses who gave evidence.’
      • ‘The two witnesses were not challenged on what they had said to those police witnesses on cross-examination.’
      • ‘All the matters alleged by the applicant had been put to the witness by the police and been denied.’
      attestor, testifier
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 A person who is present at the signing of a document and signs it themselves to confirm this.
      • ‘Someone had signed her postal voting declaration and someone else had signed as the witness.’
      • ‘If you didn't use a lawyer, you could always retype the entire document and then sign it in the presence of two witnesses and a notary.’
      • ‘His daughter, Sruti Hassan, was a witness when he signed the papers in the presence of the Director of Medical Education, C. Ravindranath.’
      • ‘All three Petitions include the same constellation of facts, dates, actions, omissions, documents, witnesses and alleged damages.’
      • ‘The district judge said that she did not require witnesses to be present.’
      • ‘The witnesses should obtain and document the consenting person's name and relationship to the patient.’
      • ‘The document is signed by two witnesses, and has the standing of a legally binding agreement.’
      • ‘To become a legal document, the will must be printed and signed with two witnesses present.’
      • ‘Even if there are not third-party witnesses to this statement, this is the sort of testimony that the trial system is designed to evaluate.’
      • ‘I was relieved when the interminable service was over, and the solemn signing the register with witnesses was announced.’
      • ‘The dowry contract was read aloud and signed by witnesses.’
      • ‘Couples sign the partnership document in the presence of two witnesses and a Civil Partnership Registrar.’
      • ‘A will in your own handwriting is perfectly legal provided it is signed by two witnesses.’
  • 2Evidence; proof.

    ‘the memorial service was witness to the wide circle of his interest’
    • ‘So much so that one begins to wonder if one is in fact witness to an ancient Flanderian sign language, life-threatening to those who fail to grasp its flailing inflections.’
    • ‘History is witness to the fact that at that time also some extremists had incited local people to ignite the fire of riots.’
    • ‘History is witness to the fact, however, that those who chose to migrate and remained aware of the price to be paid are the ones who made the process of migration a successful one.’
    • ‘His Narrative stands witness to this issue of self-naming.’
    • ‘The large following created over 25 centuries ago and continuing to this day is witness to the fact that something of distinct value was created.’
    • ‘The Canterbury Tales bear eloquent witness to the fact that for centuries Becket's tomb in the cathedral was the greatest pilgrimage shrine in England.’
    • ‘Their deaths stand in visible and evident witness to the disjunctive structure of a Christian ethics of redemption.’
    • ‘In photos they forever give witness to the fact that every piece of the built world was imagined by human mind, placed by human hand.’
    • ‘The feedback in this case showed that the sole witness to the apparition was a six year old boy named Roddy.’
    • ‘There's nothing more uncomfortable than being witness to someone's issues.’
    • ‘Mr. Mason, the mysteriously wounded house guest, stood as witness to the fact that Bertha was still alive and living at Thoriifield.’
    evidence, indication, proof, testimony
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1 Used to refer to confirmation or evidence given by signature, under oath, or otherwise.
      ‘in witness thereof, the parties sign this document’
    2. 2.2 Open profession of one's religious faith through words or actions.
      ‘faithful Christian witness’
      • ‘Yet, exegetes can hardly ignore the unbroken consensus in the biblical witness, where the words are so clearly supported by the cross itself.’
      • ‘I thank God for his witness and faith in a God and Jesus who stood by him over the last 28 years in this place.’
      • ‘It requires instruction in the faith and above all training in prayer, so that the gifts necessary for humble service and faithful witness be received by all.’
      • ‘Underlying its actions is the belief ‘that ethical living is the supreme witness of religion.’’
      • ‘The call for ‘innovation’ is in a sense a call for contextualization of faith, worship and witness even in North America.’
      • ‘The Chronicles are the outpouring of his imaginative and religious experience; his witness of the life and faith he espoused.’
      • ‘O God, bless this offering that it may become the finest of our possessions, the liveliest word of our witness, the greatest comfort to others in the giving.’
      • ‘Jesus conquers Satan by uncovering this deception; he shows that the way of God is that of non-violent faithful witness.’
      • ‘Rather, suffering and martyrdom are consequences of faithful witness in a hostile world.’
      • ‘This implies that religious witness is also in order.’
      • ‘‘The Church is called to confess the faith and to commend it by faithful witness.’’
      • ‘Colson immediately and firmly calls them to order, reminding them that the role of Christian leaders is to bear faithful and persuasive witness.’
      • ‘Had it been written subsequent to that event, we would have commended those who have offered powerful witness and care in response to the tragedy.’
      • ‘Dialogue allows for and encourages faithful and personal witness.’
      • ‘For people of faith, witness and remembrance are essential stations in their pilgrimage.’
      • ‘We are enriched in our understanding of the faith and strengthened for witness and service in the world as we listen to the voices of all God's people and receive their gifts.’
      • ‘Youth were routinely invited to lead the entire liturgy, craft prayers, offer faith witnesses and even preach sermons.’
      • ‘At that time, when they are at the mercy of their enemies, they will be able to give witness of their faith and confidence in God.’
      • ‘For me, they embody and express the faith and witness of an extraordinary servant of Christ.’
      • ‘This ministry has opened many opportunities for witness, counseling and inviting people to take part in the church's fellowship life.’
  • 3A member of the Jehovah's Witnesses.

    • ‘‘And as for you folks, I hereby arrest you for grand theft auto’ ranted on the copper like a Jehovah's witness.’
    • ‘I think a lot of it is due to my Mum, she was raised as a Jehovah's witness.’
    • ‘I haven't been one for some time. That doesn't mean, though, that I'm not a witness of Jehovah.’
    • ‘A short blonde woman in a dress suit stood there with a folder under her arm, looking for all the world like a Jehovah's witness ready to sell her salvation.’

verb

  • 1with object See (an event, typically a crime or accident) take place.

    ‘a bartender who witnessed the murder’
    • ‘If anyone has witnessed a car crime of this nature they should call Benfleet police on 01268 756221.’
    • ‘At the moment, we are even working with Interpol because one of our clients witnessed war crimes in Kosovar.’
    • ‘He was caught on CCTV and a staff member witnessed the theft.’
    • ‘By the time they realize their mistake, Dennis has a protector, namely Robert, who has witnessed the crime from his hotel window.’
    • ‘There are officers out there who deserve our support, some of whom have witnessed these crimes by their peers and have turned them in to face prosecution.’
    • ‘Soon after witnessing the rape and murder of his ostracised mother, he leaves home without word.’
    • ‘Some locals talk about wanting to pack up and leave after witnessing violent crime.’
    • ‘According to restaurant staff who witnessed the crime, there were at least six attackers, and they were dressed in police uniforms.’
    • ‘By law, if three or more people witness a crime on the scale of murder, the one who committed the crime had no right to a fair trial.’
    • ‘This all changed after witnessing the attempted crime right outside my window that night.’
    • ‘The girl managed to hide behind the refrigerator with her brother and witnessed the war crimes first-hand.’
    • ‘She said officers were following several lines of inquiry in connection with the incident and appealed to anyone who thought they had been a victim of crime, or anyone who had witnessed a crime in the area, to come forward.’
    • ‘The common factor in the two stories from different sides of the border is the indifference and the fear that paralyses people who witness such crimes.’
    • ‘Later, arising out of the Carew murder case, the anonymous maidservant who witnessed the crime describes ‘a very small gentleman’.’
    • ‘If I get burgled, especially with the cops at my home at the time witnessing the crime, I think the only chance of getting an arrest or a charge of burglary would be to ring Stephen Franks.’
    • ‘He was never involved in nor did he witness a war crime.’
    • ‘When Connor sees that Michael's teenage son has witnessed the crime, it spells tragedy for the O'Sullivan family.’
    • ‘Some of those people might believe they are smart, because nobody witnessed the crime and it saves him/her a few euros.’
    • ‘He called on anyone who may have found the dumped bag or who witnessed the crime to phone officers on 01904 631321.’
    • ‘Anyone witnessing a crime is encouraged to contact Swindon Police on 01793 528111 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.’
    see, observe, watch, look on at, be a witness to, view, note, notice, spot
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Be present as someone signs (a document) or gives (their signature) to a document and sign it oneself to confirm this.
      ‘the clerk witnessed her signature’
      • ‘The vendors are certain of its authenticity, for they have witnessed the signature in person, but to allay scepticism they often list the item with a photograph of the event.’
      • ‘Their signatures were again witnessed by John Walden.’
      • ‘The Charter was witnessed by Angela Billingham as Northampton's MEP and Neil Kinnock as the European Parliament's Commissioner of Transport.’
      • ‘I hereby witness the signing of this document by the above named in my presence.’
      • ‘He then asks them to witness the signature of his will.’
      • ‘On most of my visits I saw Wendy Gould, who was living with him, as appears from the address she gave when she witnessed his signature on the Lease.’
      • ‘Ms Malone said she put her name as witnessing the documents that Mr Phelan handed to her.’
      • ‘The witness is not witnessing the accuracy of the information provided but is witnessing the signature of the person.’
      • ‘Who is allowed to witness the patient's signature on the consent form?’
      • ‘If the patient already has signed the consent, it would be impossible for someone not present at the time to witness the patient's signature.’
      • ‘Mr Boundy was asked to witness the document and ensure that it was dated, and to return the mortgage document to the Piccadilly branch.’
      • ‘At the request of BMO, Mr. Yack witnessed Dr. Karimian's signature on this guarantee.’
      • ‘Mr. Hillis witnessed Julien Gaignard's signature on the document.’
      • ‘His record was witnessed and verified by Gary Knight from Record Breakers.’
      • ‘Stephen's assistant witnessed their signatures, and Stephen put it in the house safe.’
      • ‘However, the first he knew of her career was when she asked him to witness her record contract, as she was still underage.’
      • ‘He was so concerned at the reference to Addison's disease, he wanted his neighbour, a local clergyman, to witness the records.’
      • ‘Sir Elton's signature was witnessed by Mr Halley.’
      • ‘Hunston wrote to the Law Society last November complaining that Doran had sworn in an affidavit that he witnessed Hunston signing the document.’
      • ‘The signatures were forged by the defendant, who also signed the documents as having witnessed the signatures.’
      countersign, sign, endorse, validate
      View synonyms
  • 2Have knowledge of (an event or change) from personal observation or experience.

    ‘what we are witnessing is the birth of a new political entity’
    • ‘I have been the village postman in Troutbeck for 18 years and during that time have witnessed dramatic changes in the availability of reasonable houses to rent or buy.’
    • ‘Several experimental observations witnessing the reliability of the structural model have already been reported.’
    • ‘In recent years, we've witnessed the birth and development of the PC as an artistic hobby.’
    • ‘Future generations will not have the pleasure and privilege of observing what I witnessed the other morning.’
    • ‘In the end, however, the administration thought it would be an intriguing experience for students to witness the process of movie making up close and personal.’
    • ‘It was a touching experience to witness the third years as they marched up to the stage to collect their certificate from the principal, knowing this was the final day of their junior high school lives.’
    • ‘We'd be able to watch that life growing and witness its development.’
    • ‘I have had my own experience of witnessing a mayor-turned-municipal activist.’
    • ‘Heavy-handed searches, of the type witnessed by The Observer, involve large numbers of troops, armoured vehicles and attack helicopters.’
    1. 2.1 (of a time, place, or other context) be the setting in which (an event or development) takes place.
      ‘the 1980s witnessed an unprecedented increase in the scope of the electronic media’
      • ‘Last year witnessed a dramatic downturn and 2002 promises to be little better, despite earlier hopes of a rebound in the second half of the year.’
      • ‘The fall campaign witnessed extensive religious mobilization, albeit in a different configuration than in past years.’
      • ‘The 1970s witnessed dramatic changes in policy rationales for state involvement in economic affairs.’
      • ‘The period 1894-1913 witnessed intense growth in investment in tramways.’
      • ‘This period of chaos witnessed the beginning of terrorist attacks launched against U.S. and Western interests.’
      • ‘The last twenty years have witnessed some dramatic developments in organizations and the relations between them.’
      • ‘Services were disrupted during World War I and the interwar period witnessed few new developments except for the introduction of diesel motorships.’
      • ‘The post-Ranjit Singh period witnessed certain developments when attempts were made to revert to the Khalsa tradition.’
      • ‘This period has witnessed major changes in our diets, lifestyle, and social practices, some of which may be having profound effects on human health.’
      • ‘Indeed, the US economy witnessed unprecedented growth.’
      • ‘WW I was an ‘artillery war’ par excellence, witnessing the dramatic development of indirect fire and artillery fire control.’
      • ‘The modern period has witnessed the emergence of many new forms of poetry and popular fiction.’
      • ‘The period since World War II has witnessed dramatic changes in the preferences of individuals and their allocation of time and resources.’
      • ‘Finally, this period witnessed an unprecedented growth of Japan's cities.’
      • ‘Critics point out that the city has witnessed a dramatic growth in employment due to an influx of high-technology manufacturing and service industries.’
      • ‘On the Continent, the Carolingian period witnessed a renewal of interest in classical art and learning.’
      • ‘The Victorian period also witnessed considerable change in the economic structure of Scotland.’
      • ‘In the last several decades, the world has witnessed a knowledge explosion in the life sciences based on an understanding of genes and how they work.’
      • ‘Moreover, this period witnessed unparalleled growth in global competition.’
      • ‘Twentieth century's final years witnessed some cataclysmic events unprecedented in history.’
      • ‘This collection examines the period from the early 1980s that witnessed the beginning of dramatic changes in East-West relations.’
    2. 2.2witness tono object Give or serve as evidence of; testify to.
      ‘his writings witness to an inner toughness’
      • ‘Now, each of us is called to witness to the love that is freely offered to everyone who takes Jesus as their King.’
      • ‘As we exercise faithful stewardship over our bodies, we witness to our thankfulness to God for those bodies’
      • ‘Graciously the Lord spared him for a further five years, during which he sought to witness to his family and show them the way of salvation.’
      • ‘They are true pilgrims who witness to us the meaning of hope.’
      • ‘It does not deal well with the question of how doing evil to one to stop evil to many can witness to the reign of a God that is truly and completely good.’
      • ‘Their different ends give them the purchase to interpret the Christian aim as penultimate, and to witness to Christians that they should seek a better way.’
      • ‘They witness to an agreement of both churches on the essentials of faith on the basis of the common tradition of the ancient church.’
      • ‘A wise Christian told me about a year ago that I should never forget that God has put me in a great position to witness to lots of people.’
      • ‘Only by sharing and caring and bearing each other's burdens can we become daring in witnessing to our faith in Christ, which gives us strength to continue in mission.’
      • ‘Such vigilance is to witness to the power of Scripture and of Christ, as led by the Spirit.’
      • ‘Neither panels, as wings of a triptych, are of course signed, but they witness to a feature of El Greco's life - the production of multiple versions of the same scenes.’
      • ‘To be a martyr is to witness to the truth we hold dear about our faith: the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit.’
      • ‘We should pray for Christian believers there, as they witness to their trust and confidence in the Lord Jesus Christ in the midst of such a tragedy.’
      • ‘Every day provides plenty of opportunities to witness to the life of Christ in me and to die to myself so that I can care for others!’
      • ‘One of the young men we support has taught himself the deaf and dumb language in order to witness to this neglected and marginalised group of people in Russian society.’
      attest to, be evidence of, be proof of, testify to, bear witness to, confirm, evidence, prove, verify, corroborate, substantiate, bear out
      View synonyms
    3. 2.3in imperative Look at (used to introduce a fact illustrating a preceding statement)
      ‘the nuclear family is a vulnerable institution—witness the rates of marital breakdown’
      • ‘While I admire De-Bono ideas he does seem to be a bit of a control freak - witness his statement that the Aborigines have been playing the didgeridoo wrong for 3000 years.’
  • 3no object (of a person) openly profess one's religious faith.

    ‘our duty is to witness to God’
    • ‘And in humility, we all have to witness to our own faith in a way that enhances life rather than parade the bitterness with which fundamentalism distorts divine messages of love.’
    • ‘Becoming living stones means we need to learn to do mission better than ever before as we witness to God's all-inclusive and unconditional love.’
    • ‘They are chosen by God to witness to Christ and suffer with Him.’
    • ‘It is hoped that the examples of missionaries who have died will encourage others to witness to the Faith in their vocation in life.’
    • ‘Saints are forgiven sinners living by faith, witnessing to God's love, serving humanity, caring for creation.’
    • ‘In so doing, they engage their proper task of struggling together to witness to and be the disciples of Christ in all that they say and do.’
    • ‘God directs those who follow Jesus Christ to represent Christ in the world and to witness to God's love.’
    • ‘Tell the Lord that you want to witness to him through your talents, your demeanor, and your acts of love.’
    • ‘We were a group of Christians, about twenty to thirty in number, who had come together for the bank holiday weekend to witness to Jesus Christ.’
    • ‘Each of us has received the Holy Spirit to witness to Jesus and to help spread the gospel.’
    • ‘Mark says, about his efforts to witness to this man, ‘Praise God we are [now] getting somewhere.’’

Phrases

  • as God is my witness (or God be my witness)

    • An invocation of God as confirmation of the truth of a statement.

      ‘God be my witness, sir, I didn't!’
      • ‘Finally, my solemn pledge to you: as God is my witness, this site will never, ever feature blinking, flashing, animated advertising of any sort.’
      • ‘Now I know, as God is my witness, unless I'm senile no 5 year old is going to be talking to me that way.’
      • ‘But as God is my witness, I'm not getting a little dog that fits into a Burbury tote.’
      • ‘But I am going to marry Theo Dewhurst, and be his wife, and bear his children, and as God is my witness, love and nothing else is going to rule my life.’
      • ‘This altar's here, and as God is my witness, what else is a church for?’
      • ‘It was really never my aspiration as God is my witness to ever have a large salary.’
      • ‘But as God is my witness, I am going to drive perfectly from now on.’
      • ‘And as God is my witness what I will say next is the truth - I locked eyes with the largest tiger snake any living man has seen.’
      • ‘But as God is my witness, we shall meet again, and Fate will not be in your favor!’
      • ‘The others, even my fellow five-year-olds screeched in delight and were only hindered from mauling Santa by the serried ranks of nurses who secured her path to the Christmas tree where Santa, as God is my witness, kicked me out of her way.’
  • call someone or something to witness

    • archaic Appeal or refer to someone or something for confirmation or evidence of something.

      ‘his hands extended upward as if to call the heavens to witness this injustice’
      • ‘The Bible calls us to witness to and to serve the religious other as neighbor.’
      • ‘As such, Christians are called to witness to the faith that is in them concerning the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.’
      • ‘He never called me to witness the miracle and finally informed me that he'd been instructed not to communicate with persons who were not ‘in’ the movement.’
      • ‘Jesus has opened the kingdom of heaven and called his church to witness to his love.’
      • ‘The gods of Olympus know this sort of binding oath between them, which calls the infernal rivers to witness.’
      • ‘The classical iconographic representation of the Buddha's realization shows him touching the earth with his right hand, and calling the earth to witness his attainment.’
      • ‘Henry saw how the currency of his work might be delayed, and that its meaning might emerge in the way it is called to witness an age when a South Pacific nation might feel the urge to realise itself as a republic.’
      • ‘The people of Israel learned a lesson about living a glorious life: God calls us to witness divine glory.’
      • ‘Those expressive black eyes seem to violently call the visitor to witness.’
      • ‘The hand position or mudra, which is most often associated with Shakyamuni Buddha, is ‘calling the earth to witness.’’

Origin

Old English witnes (see wit, -ness).

Pronunciation

witness

/ˈwitnəs//ˈwɪtnəs/