witness Meaning, Definition & Usage

  1. noun someone who sees an event and reports what happened
    witnesser; informant.
  2. noun a close observer; someone who looks at something (such as an exhibition of some kind)
    viewer; looker; spectator; watcher.
    • the spectators applauded the performance
    • television viewers
    • sky watchers discovered a new star
  3. noun testimony by word or deed to your religious faith
  4. noun (law) a person who attests to the genuineness of a document or signature by adding their own signature
    attestant; attestor; attestator.
  5. noun (law) a person who testifies under oath in a court of law
  6. verb be a witness to
    • She witnessed the accident and had to testify in court
  7. verb perceive or be contemporaneous with
    see; find.
    • We found Republicans winning the offices
    • You'll see a lot of cheating in this school
    • The 1960's saw the rebellion of the younger generation against established traditions
    • I want to see results


Wit"ness noun
AS. witness, gewitnes, from witan to know. See Wit, v. i.
  1. Attestation of a fact or an event; testimony.
    May we with . . . the witness of a good conscience, pursue him with any further revenge? Shak.
    If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true. John v. 31.
  2. That which furnishes evidence or proof.
    Laban said to Jacob, . . . This heap be witness, and this pillar be witness. Gen. xxxi. 51, 52.
  3. One who is cognizant; a person who beholds, or otherwise has personal knowledge of, anything; as, an eyewitness; an earwitness. "Thyself art witness I am betrothed." Shak.
    Upon my looking round, I was witness to appearances which filled me with melancholy and regret. R. Hall.
  4. (Law) (a) One who testifies in a cause, or gives evidence before a judicial tribunal; as, the witness in court agreed in all essential facts. (b) One who sees the execution of an instrument, and subscribes it for the purpose of confirming its authenticity by his testimony; one who witnesses a will, a deed, a marriage, or the like.
Wit"ness transitive verb
imperfect & past participle Witnessed ; present participle & verbal noun Witnessing
  1. To see or know by personal presence; to have direct cognizance of.
    This is but a faint sketch of the incalculable calamities and horrors we must expect, should we ever witness the triumphs of modern infidelity. R. Hall.
    General Washington did not live to witness the restoration of peace. Marshall.
  2. To give testimony to; to testify to; to attest.
    Behold how many things they witness against thee. Mark xv. 4.
  3. (Law) To see the execution of, as an instrument, and subscribe it for the purpose of establishing its authenticity; as, to witness a bond or a deed.
Wit"ness intransitive verb
  1. To bear testimony; to give evidence; to testify. Chaucer.
    The men of Belial witnessed against him. 1 Kings xxi. 13.
    The witnessing of the truth was then so generally attended with this event [martyrdom] that martyrdom now signifies not only to witness, but to witness to death. South.

Webster 1913