American English

Definition of witness verb from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



    Verb Forms present simple I / you / we / they witness
    he / she / it witnesses
    past simple witnessed
    -ing form witnessing
    jump to other results
    see something
  1. 1[transitive] witness something to see something happen (typically a crime or an accident) She was shocked by the violent scenes she had witnessed. Police have asked for anyone who witnessed the incident to contact them. The novel is based on an event that he himself had witnessed. I couldn't bear to witness their suffering. We are now witnessing an unprecedented increase in violent crime. We had witnessed one of the most outstanding theatrical performances of the decade. Thesaurusnoticenote detect observe witnessThese words all mean to see something, especially when you pay careful attention to it.notice to see, hear, or become aware of someone or something; to pay attention to someone or something:The first thing I noticed about the room was the smell.note (somewhat formal) to notice or pay careful attention to something:Please note (that) the office will be closed on Monday. This word is very common in business English:Note that the prices do not include sales tax.detect to discover or notice something, especially something that is not easy to see, hear, etc.:The tests are designed to detect the disease early.observe (formal) to see or notice someone or something:Let me know if you observe any changes in his behavior. The police observed a van leaving the parking lot.witness (somewhat formal) to see something happen:Police have asked anyone who witnessed the robbery to contact them.Patterns to notice/note/detect/observe that/how/what/where/who… to notice/observe/witness something happen/somebody do something
  2. of time/place
  3. 2[transitive] witness something to be the place, period, organization, etc. in which particular events take place Recent years have witnessed a growing social mobility. The retail trade is witnessing a sharp fall in sales.
  4. signature
  5. 3[transitive] witness something to be present when an official document is signed and sign it yourself to prove that you saw this happen to witness a signature The document was witnessed by a lawyer.
  6. be sign/proof
  7. 4[transitive, usually passive, intransitive] to be a sign or proof of something witness something There has been increasing interest in her life and work,as witnessed by the publication of two new biographies. witness to something The huge attendance figures for the exhibition witness to a healthy interest in modern art.
  8. 5[transitive] witness something (formal) used when giving an example that proves something you have just said Authentic Italian cooking is very healthy—witness the low incidence of heart disease in Italy.
  9. to religious beliefs
  10. 6[intransitive] witness (to something) to speak to people about your strong religious beliefs synonym testify
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: witness