If you're walking down the street and see one car run a red light and plow into another, you are a witness to the accident. You saw it and can tell someone else how the accident happened.

The first part of a witness's role is observation. You witness the accident. The second part is telling someone about it — bearing witness. In court, you can be a witness for the defense or prosecution. You can also witness a legal document, like a will, or a wedding conducted by the justice of the peace. Religious people use this word a lot too: being a witness in that sense is being a true believer who tries to convert others.

Definitions of witness
  1. noun
    someone who sees an event and reports what happened
    synonyms: informant, witnesser
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    attestant, attester
    someone who affirms or vouches for the correctness or truth or genuineness of something
    deponent, deposer, testifier
    a person who testifies or gives a deposition
    type of:
    beholder, observer, perceiver, percipient
    a person who becomes aware (of things or events) through the senses
    speaker, talker, utterer, verbaliser, verbalizer
    someone who expresses in language; someone who talks (especially someone who delivers a public speech or someone especially garrulous)
  2. noun
    a close observer; someone who looks at something (such as an exhibition of some kind)
    synonyms: looker, spectator, viewer, watcher
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    a viewer who looks around casually without seeking anything in particular
    a nonparticipant spectator
    a spectator who shouts encouragement
    a spectator who can describe what happened
    a spectator who stares stupidly without intelligent awareness
    motion-picture fan, moviegoer
    someone who goes to see movies
    a viewer who gives a flirtatious or lewd look at another person
    looker-on, onlooker
    someone who looks on
    playgoer, theatergoer, theatregoer
    someone who attends the theater
    rubberneck, rubbernecker
    a person who stares inquisitively
    a secret watcher; someone who secretly watches other people
    a viewer who gazes fixedly (often with hostility)
    Peeping Tom, peeper, voyeur
    a viewer who enjoys seeing the sex acts or sex organs of others
    someone habitually a spectator at the openings of theatrical productions
    in Elizabethan theater: a playgoer in the cheap standing section
    snoop, snooper
    a spy who makes uninvited inquiries into the private affairs of others
    shadow, shadower, tail
    a spy employed to follow someone and report their movements
    type of:
    beholder, observer, perceiver, percipient
    a person who becomes aware (of things or events) through the senses
  3. noun
    testimony by word or deed to your religious faith
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    the first pillar of Islam is an affirmation of faith
    type of:
    a solemn statement made under oath
  4. noun
    (law) a person who attests to the genuineness of a document or signature by adding their own signature
    synonyms: attestant, attestator, attestor
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    type of:
    signatory, signer
    someone who signs and is bound by a document
  5. noun
    (law) a person who testifies under oath in a court of law
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    adverse witness, hostile witness
    a witness whose relationship to the opposing party is such that his or her testimony may be prejudiced against the opposing party
    character witness
    a witness who testifies under oath as to the good reputation of another person in the community where that person lives
    expert witness
    a witness who has knowledge not normally possessed by the average person concerning the topic that he is to testify about
    lay witness
    any witness who does not testify as an expert witness
    material witness
    a witness whose testimony is both relevant to the matter at issue and required in order to resolve the matter
    type of:
    individual, mortal, person, somebody, someone, soul
    a human being
  6. verb
    be a witness to
    “She witnessed the accident and had to testify in court”
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    be present at an event and see it with one's own eyes
    type of:
    look attentively
  7. verb
    perceive or be contemporaneous with
    synonyms: find, see
    discover, find out, get a line, get wind, get word, hear, learn, pick up, see
    get to know or become aware of, usually accidentally
    perceive oneself to be in a certain condition or place
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    become aware of
    type of:
    experience, go through, see
    go or live through
Word Family

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