Meaning of “witness” in the English Dictionary

"witness" in British English

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witnessnoun [ C ]

uk /ˈwɪt.nəs/ us /ˈwɪt.nəs/

witness noun [ C ] (SEE)

B2 a person who sees an event happening, especially a crime or an accident:

Police are appealing for witnesses to the accident to come forward.
According to (eye) witnesses, the robbery was carried out by two teenage boys.
be witness to sth

to see something happen:

She was witness to the tragic event.

someone who is asked to be present at a particular event and sign their name in order to prove that things have been done correctly:

He signed the treaty in the presence of two witnesses.
They were married a year after they first met, with two friends acting as witnesses.

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witness noun [ C ] (LAW)

a person in a law court who says what they know about a legal case or a particular person:

Ten witnesses are expected to testify at the trial today.
The key witness for the prosecution was offered police protection after she received death threats.
expert witness

a person who is allowed to give their opinion in a law court because of their knowledge or practical experience of a particular subject:

A psychiatrist was called as an expert witness for the defence.

witnessverb [ T ]

uk /ˈwɪt.nəs/ us /ˈwɪt.nəs/

witness verb [ T ] (BE PRESENT)

B2 to see something happen, especially an accident or crime:

Did anyone witness the attack?
They were staying in the capital at the time of the riots and witnessed several street battles.
[ + -ing verb ] He arrived home just in time to witness his brother being taken away by the police.

to be present at an event and to sign your name as proof that it happened or that it was done correctly:

Her will was witnessed by two colleagues.

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Phrasal verb(s)

(Definition of “witness” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"witness" in American English

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witnessnoun

us /ˈwɪt·nəs/

witness noun (PERSON WHO SEES)

[ C/U ] a person who sees an event happening, esp. a crime or an accident:

[ C ] According to witnesses, the car used in the robbery was a green van with Pennsylvania license plates.

[ C/U ] Someone who is witness to something sees it:

[ U ] She was witness to the tragic event.

[ C/U ] If you are a witness, you are asked to be present at a particular event and to sign (= write your name on) a document in order to prove that things have been done correctly:

[ C ] The will has to be signed by two witnesses.

witness noun (PERSON IN COURT)

[ C ] a person in a law court who promises to tell the truth and answers questions about something that was seen or is known:

Five witnesses are expected to testify at the trial today.

witnessverb [ T ]

us /ˈwɪt·nəs/

witness verb [ T ] (BE THE PERSON WHO SEES)

to see something happen:

We were there at the time and witnessed the accident.
The university has witnessed (= experienced) quite a few changes over the years.

Witness also means to show or give proof of something:

The program aroused strong feelings, as witnessed by the number of letters the station received.
Rock music is becoming a health problem – witness the loss of hearing (= for proof, look at the loss of hearing) in some of our youth.

If you are asked to witness an event, you are asked to be present at it and sign your name to prove that things have been done correctly.

(Definition of “witness” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

"witness" in Business English

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witnessnoun [ C ]

uk /ˈwɪtnəs/ us LAW

someone who gives information in a court of law about a particular person or event, usually when there has been a crime or an accident:

witness for the defence/prosecution The key witness for the prosecution was given police protection.
act as/appear as/be called as a witness Doctors confirmed that he was not fit to be called as a witness in the trial.
The police are appealing for witnesses.
a credible/material witness
a witness account/statement

someone who signs an official document to prove that an event has happened or that someone is who they say they are:

He signed the treaty in the presence of six witnesses.

See also

witnessverb [ T ]

uk /ˈwɪtnəs/ us

to see something happen, especially an accident or a crime:

The police want to hear from anyone who witnessed the incident.
witness an attack/crime

to sign your name on an official document to prove that an event has happened or that someone is who they say they are:

witness an agreement/contract/signature She asked a colleague to witness the contract.

to experience something happening:

India witnessed significant jumps in its growth rates as it opened up its economy to international trade.

(Definition of “witness” from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)