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

n someone who sees an event and reports what happened

informant, witnesser
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)

n a close observer; someone who looks at something (such as an exhibition of some kind)

looker, spectator, viewer, watcher
show 17 types...
hide 17 types...
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

n testimony by word or deed to your religious faith

the first pillar of Islam is an affirmation of faith
Type of:
a solemn statement made under oath

n (law) a person who attests to the genuineness of a document or signature by adding their own signature

attestant, attestator, attestor
Type of:
signatory, signer
someone who signs and is bound by a document

n (law) a person who testifies under oath in a court of law

show 5 types...
hide 5 types...
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

v be a witness to

“She witnessed the accident and had to testify in court”
be present at an event and see it with one's own eyes
Type of:
look attentively

v perceive or be contemporaneous with

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
become aware of
Type of:
experience, go through, see
go or live through

Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a lifelong learner, Vocabulary.com can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.