English

Definition of witness verb from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary

      

    witness

     verb
    verb
    BrE BrE//ˈwɪtnəs//
     
    ; NAmE NAmE//ˈwɪtnəs//
     
    Verb Forms present simple I / you / we / they witness
    BrE BrE//ˈwɪtnəs//
     
    ; NAmE NAmE//ˈwɪtnəs//
     
    he / she / it witnesses
    BrE BrE//ˈwɪtnəsɪz//
     
    ; NAmE NAmE//ˈwɪtnəsɪz//
     
    past simple witnessed
    BrE BrE//ˈwɪtnəst//
     
    ; NAmE NAmE//ˈwɪtnəst//
     
    past participle witnessed
    BrE BrE//ˈwɪtnəst//
     
    ; NAmE NAmE//ˈwɪtnəst//
     
    -ing form witnessing
    BrE BrE//ˈwɪtnəsɪŋ//
     
    ; NAmE NAmE//ˈwɪtnəsɪŋ//
     
     
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  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 appealed 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. Synonymsnoticenote 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 somebody/​something; to pay attention to somebody/​something:The first thing I noticed about the room was the smell.note (rather 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 are inclusive of VAT.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 somebody/​something:Have you observed any changes lately? The police observed a man enter the bank.witness (rather formal) to see something happen:Police have appealed for anyone who witnessed the incident 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. Wordfinderagreement, binding, certificate, clause, deed, document, draft, draw up, subsection, witness
  6. be sign/proof
  7. 4[transitive, intransitive, usually passive] 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) (especially North American English) to speak to people about your strong religious beliefs synonym testify
  11. Word Origin Old English witnes (see wit, -ness).Extra examples I couldn’t bear to witness their suffering. Police have appealed for anyone who witnessed the incident to contact them. The last century witnessed an unprecedented increase in violent crime. We had witnessed one of the most outstanding theatrical performances of the decade.
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: witness