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.’
    • ‘I am appealing to any witnesses to the accident to come forward.’
    • ‘There were no independent witnesses to the accident which occurred on the main Cork-Bandon road.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘But when I talked to them, none of the witnesses to the crime had done so.’
    • ‘Sgt Bussey has now appealed for witnesses to the accident.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Sgt Desmond appealed for witnesses to the crime to come forward.’
    • ‘The problem was that there were no witnesses to the crime.’
    • ‘There were no witnesses to the crime but if anyone has any further information then please contact the Det Sgt Willmott on 01268 511212.’
    • ‘He also says there were valuable witnesses to that crime.’
    • ‘Traffic officer PC Mark Pearce is asking witnesses to the accident to call 01245 452918’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘This normally takes the form of two witnesses to the crime or one witness and corroborating evidence, usually in the form of forensic evidence.’
    • ‘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’.’
    • ‘Any witnesses to the accident, who saw either vehicle before it, should call Beverley Police Station on 01482 597900.’
    • ‘The quality cannot be guaranteed, but they come from all corners to the Cork county final, knowing they are witnesses to a unique event.’
    • ‘Later, the authorities said the soldiers might have been witnesses to a crime committed by others.’
    • ‘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.’
    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:
      ‘a key witness at the trial’
      [as modifier] ‘oral evidence set down in witness statements’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Sinclair complained that the Crown had failed to disclose a police statement that was inconsistent with evidence the witness gave in court.’
      • ‘The two witnesses were not challenged on what they had said to those police witnesses on cross-examination.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘What is relevant is to consider, does this statement tend to challenge or contradict the testimony of the witness?’
      • ‘Not having seen the witnesses, the appellate court cannot easily form a view about their general credibility.’
      • ‘But because they are about acceptance of the testimony of the witnesses, they build up the credibility of the complainant.’
      • ‘Judges, lawyers, police officers and witnesses already complain about the frequent delays and adjournments in court.’
      • ‘The evidence consisted of admissions, exhibits and the testimony of two police witnesses.’
      • ‘‘Out of all the statements police take from witnesses, only a minority of those go to court,’ he said.’
      • ‘The said witness gave a statement to the police as well as testimony at trial.’
      • ‘The Trial Chamber heard testimony from about 30 witnesses who survived the brutality, and who reported the frequent killings and torture.’
      • ‘After more objections from the Attorney-General and Solicitor General, the Court held the witness's testimony inadmissible.’
      • ‘Defendants, witnesses, solicitors, police officers and probation officers will then have to travel 25 miles across Salisbury Plain.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The defense also subpoenaed several police officers as defense witnesses who evidently were not taken into account in making the first estimate.’
      • ‘In the following section of the case stated the magistrates summarise the testimony of the witnesses who gave evidence.’
      • ‘And finally, the suspect might have police witnesses who are willing to testify about mix-ups in the evidence lockers.’
      • ‘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:
      ‘a deed signed in the presence of a witness’
      • ‘To become a legal document, the will must be printed and signed with two witnesses present.’
      • ‘The document is signed by two witnesses, and has the standing of a legally binding agreement.’
      • ‘The dowry contract was read aloud and signed by witnesses.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Someone had signed her postal voting declaration and someone else had signed as the witness.’
      • ‘Couples sign the partnership document in the presence of two witnesses and a Civil Partnership Registrar.’
      • ‘The district judge said that she did not require witnesses to be present.’
      • ‘I was relieved when the interminable service was over, and the solemn signing the register with witnesses was announced.’
      • ‘A will in your own handwriting is perfectly legal provided it is signed by two witnesses.’
      • ‘The witnesses should obtain and document the consenting person's name and relationship to the patient.’
  • 2[mass noun] Evidence; proof:

    ‘the memorial service was witness to the wide circle of his interests’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The feedback in this case showed that the sole witness to the apparition was a six year old boy named Roddy.’
    • ‘Their deaths stand in visible and evident witness to the disjunctive structure of a Christian ethics of redemption.’
    • ‘Mr. Mason, the mysteriously wounded house guest, stood as witness to the fact that Bertha was still alive and living at Thoriifield.’
    • ‘His Narrative stands witness to this issue of self-naming.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘There's nothing more uncomfortable than being witness to someone's issues.’
    • ‘History is witness to the fact that at that time also some extremists had incited local people to ignite the fire of riots.’
    • ‘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.’
    evidence, indication, proof, testimony
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1 Used to refer to confirmation or evidence given by signature or under oath:
      ‘in witness thereof, the parties sign this document’
    2. 2.2 Open profession of one's religious faith through words or actions:
      ‘they will be able to give witness of their faith and confidence in God’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘This ministry has opened many opportunities for witness, counseling and inviting people to take part in the church's fellowship life.’
      • ‘The Chronicles are the outpouring of his imaginative and religious experience; his witness of the life and faith he espoused.’
      • ‘Underlying its actions is the belief ‘that ethical living is the supreme witness of religion.’’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Rather, suffering and martyrdom are consequences of faithful witness in a hostile world.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Colson immediately and firmly calls them to order, reminding them that the role of Christian leaders is to bear faithful and persuasive witness.’
      • ‘‘The Church is called to confess the faith and to commend it by faithful witness.’’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Jesus conquers Satan by uncovering this deception; he shows that the way of God is that of non-violent faithful witness.’
      • ‘Youth were routinely invited to lead the entire liturgy, craft prayers, offer faith witnesses and even preach sermons.’
      • ‘Dialogue allows for and encourages faithful and personal witness.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘This implies that religious witness is also in order.’
      • ‘For me, they embody and express the faith and witness of an extraordinary servant of Christ.’
      • ‘The call for ‘innovation’ is in a sense a call for contextualization of faith, worship and witness even in North America.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘For people of faith, witness and remembrance are essential stations in their pilgrimage.’
  • 3A line or remnant of an original surface on a workpiece to show how much material has been removed or the shape of the original outline.

verb

[WITH OBJECT]
  • 1See (an event, typically a crime or accident) happen:

    ‘staff who witnessed the murder’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘At the moment, we are even working with Interpol because one of our clients witnessed war crimes in Kosovar.’
    • ‘By the time they realize their mistake, Dennis has a protector, namely Robert, who has witnessed the crime from his hotel window.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He was caught on CCTV and a staff member witnessed the theft.’
    • ‘Some locals talk about wanting to pack up and leave after witnessing violent crime.’
    • ‘If anyone has witnessed a car crime of this nature they should call Benfleet police on 01268 756221.’
    • ‘Soon after witnessing the rape and murder of his ostracised mother, he leaves home without word.’
    • ‘The girl managed to hide behind the refrigerator with her brother and witnessed the war crimes first-hand.’
    • ‘Anyone witnessing a crime is encouraged to contact Swindon Police on 01793 528111 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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 called on anyone who may have found the dumped bag or who witnessed the crime to phone officers on 01904 631321.’
    • ‘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’.’
    • ‘This all changed after witnessing the attempted crime right outside my window that night.’
    • ‘He was never involved in nor did he witness a war crime.’
    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’
      • ‘He then asks them to witness the signature of his will.’
      • ‘Ms Malone said she put her name as witnessing the documents that Mr Phelan handed to her.’
      • ‘At the request of BMO, Mr. Yack witnessed Dr. Karimian's signature on this guarantee.’
      • ‘Their signatures were again witnessed by John Walden.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I hereby witness the signing of this document by the above named in my presence.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The witness is not witnessing the accuracy of the information provided but is witnessing the signature of the person.’
      • ‘Mr Boundy was asked to witness the document and ensure that it was dated, and to return the mortgage document to the Piccadilly branch.’
      • ‘His record was witnessed and verified by Gary Knight from Record Breakers.’
      • ‘Mr. Hillis witnessed Julien Gaignard's signature on the document.’
      • ‘Sir Elton's signature was witnessed by Mr Halley.’
      • ‘Who is allowed to witness the patient's signature on the consent form?’
      • ‘However, the first he knew of her career was when she asked him to witness her record contract, as she was still underage.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The signatures were forged by the defendant, who also signed the documents as having witnessed the signatures.’
      • ‘The Charter was witnessed by Angela Billingham as Northampton's MEP and Neil Kinnock as the European Parliament's Commissioner of Transport.’
      • ‘He was so concerned at the reference to Addison's disease, he wanted his neighbour, a local clergyman, to witness the records.’
      • ‘Hunston wrote to the Law Society last November complaining that Doran had sworn in an affidavit that he witnessed Hunston signing the document.’
      • ‘Stephen's assistant witnessed their signatures, and Stephen put it in the house safe.’
      countersign, sign, endorse, validate
      View synonyms
  • 2Have knowledge of (a development) from observation or experience:

    ‘what we are witnessing is the birth of a dangerously liberal orthodoxy’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Heavy-handed searches, of the type witnessed by The Observer, involve large numbers of troops, armoured vehicles and attack helicopters.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘In recent years, we've witnessed the birth and development of the PC as an artistic hobby.’
    • ‘Several experimental observations witnessing the reliability of the structural model have already been reported.’
    • ‘Future generations will not have the pleasure and privilege of observing what I witnessed the other morning.’
    1. 2.1 Be the place, period, or setting in which (an event or development) takes place:
      ‘the 1980s witnessed an unprecedented increase in the scope of the electronic media’
      • ‘Twentieth century's final years witnessed some cataclysmic events unprecedented in history.’
      • ‘This period of chaos witnessed the beginning of terrorist attacks launched against U.S. and Western interests.’
      • ‘The 1970s witnessed dramatic changes in policy rationales for state involvement in economic affairs.’
      • ‘WW I was an ‘artillery war’ par excellence, witnessing the dramatic development of indirect fire and artillery fire control.’
      • ‘On the Continent, the Carolingian period witnessed a renewal of interest in classical art and learning.’
      • ‘Indeed, the US economy witnessed unprecedented growth.’
      • ‘Services were disrupted during World War I and the interwar period witnessed few new developments except for the introduction of diesel motorships.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘This period has witnessed major changes in our diets, lifestyle, and social practices, some of which may be having profound effects on human health.’
      • ‘Moreover, this period witnessed unparalleled growth in global competition.’
      • ‘The post-Ranjit Singh period witnessed certain developments when attempts were made to revert to the Khalsa tradition.’
      • ‘The last twenty years have witnessed some dramatic developments in organizations and the relations between them.’
      • ‘The period since World War II has witnessed dramatic changes in the preferences of individuals and their allocation of time and resources.’
      • ‘The Victorian period also witnessed considerable change in the economic structure of Scotland.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Critics point out that the city has witnessed a dramatic growth in employment due to an influx of high-technology manufacturing and service industries.’
      • ‘The period 1894-1913 witnessed intense growth in investment in tramways.’
      • ‘This collection examines the period from the early 1980s that witnessed the beginning of dramatic changes in East-West relations.’
      • ‘The modern period has witnessed the emergence of many new forms of poetry and popular fiction.’
      • ‘Finally, this period witnessed an unprecedented growth of Japan's cities.’
    2. 2.2 Be a sign or proof of (something); serve as evidence:
      ‘the mid-1980s saw an intensification of interest in community care, as witnessed by the publication of four major reports’
      [no object] ‘his writings witness to an inner toughness’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Now, each of us is called to witness to the love that is freely offered to everyone who takes Jesus as their King.’
      • ‘Such vigilance is to witness to the power of Scripture and of Christ, as led by the Spirit.’
      • ‘They are true pilgrims who witness to us the meaning of hope.’
      • ‘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!’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘They witness to an agreement of both churches on the essentials of faith on the basis of the common tradition of the ancient church.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘As we exercise faithful stewardship over our bodies, we witness to our thankfulness to God for those bodies’
      attest to, be evidence of, be proof of, testify to, bear witness to, confirm, evidence, prove, verify, corroborate, substantiate, bear out
      View synonyms
    3. 2.3[in imperative] Used to introduce an example that proves 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.’
  • 3[no object] Openly profess one's religious faith:

    ‘one of the purposes of his coming was to nerve the disciples to witness to Jesus’
    • ‘Mark says, about his efforts to witness to this man, ‘Praise God we are [now] getting somewhere.’’
    • ‘Each of us has received the Holy Spirit to witness to Jesus and to help spread the gospel.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘It is hoped that the examples of missionaries who have died will encourage others to witness to the Faith in their vocation in life.’
    • ‘They are chosen by God to witness to Christ and suffer with Him.’
    • ‘Tell the Lord that you want to witness to him through your talents, your demeanor, and your acts of love.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘God directs those who follow Jesus Christ to represent Christ in the world and to witness to God's 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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Saints are forgiven sinners living by faith, witnessing to God's love, serving humanity, caring for creation.’

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!’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘But as God is my witness, we shall meet again, and Fate will not be in your favor!’
      • ‘But as God is my witness, I'm not getting a little dog that fits into a Burbury tote.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It was really never my aspiration as God is my witness to ever have a large salary.’
      • ‘This altar's here, and as God is my witness, what else is a church for?’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Finally, my solemn pledge to you: as God is my witness, this site will never, ever feature blinking, flashing, animated advertising of any sort.’
      • ‘But as God is my witness, I am going to drive perfectly from now on.’
  • call someone/thing to witness

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

      • ‘As such, Christians are called to witness to the faith that is in them concerning the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The people of Israel learned a lesson about living a glorious life: God calls us to witness divine glory.’
      • ‘The Bible calls us to witness to and to serve the religious other as neighbor.’
      • ‘The hand position or mudra, which is most often associated with Shakyamuni Buddha, is ‘calling the earth to witness.’’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Those expressive black eyes seem to violently call the visitor to witness.’
      • ‘The gods of Olympus know this sort of binding oath between them, which calls the infernal rivers to witness.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Jesus has opened the kingdom of heaven and called his church to witness to his love.’

Origin

Old English witnes (see wit, -ness).

Pronunciation:

witness

/ˈwɪtnəs/