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9 definitions found
 for witness
From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48 :

  Witness \Wit"ness\, v. t. [imp. & p. p. Witnessed; p. pr. &
     vb. n. Witnessing.]
     [1913 Webster]
     1. To see or know by personal presence; to have direct
        cognizance of.
        [1913 Webster]
              This is but a faint sketch of the incalculable
              calamities and horrors we must expect, should we
              ever witness the triumphs of modern infidelity. --R.
        [1913 Webster]
              General Washington did not live to witness the
              restoration of peace.                 --Marshall.
        [1913 Webster]
     2. To give testimony to; to testify to; to attest.
        [1913 Webster]
              Behold how many things they witness against thee.
                                                    --Mark xv. 4.
        [1913 Webster]
     3. (Law) To see the execution of, as an instrument, and
        subscribe it for the purpose of establishing its
        authenticity; as, to witness a bond or a deed.
        [1913 Webster]

From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48 :

  Witness \Wit"ness\, n. [AS. witness, gewitnes, from witan to
     know. [root]133. See Wit, v. i.]
     [1913 Webster]
     1. Attestation of a fact or an event; testimony.
        [1913 Webster]
              May we with . . . the witness of a good conscience,
              pursue him with any further revenge?  --Shak.
        [1913 Webster]
              If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true.
                                                    --John v. 31.
        [1913 Webster]
     2. That which furnishes evidence or proof.
        [1913 Webster]
              Laban said to Jacob, . . . This heap be witness, and
              this pillar be witness.               --Gen. xxxi.
                                                    51, 52.
        [1913 Webster]
     3. One who is cognizant; a person who beholds, or otherwise
        has personal knowledge of, anything; as, an eyewitness; an
        earwitness. "Thyself art witness I am betrothed." --Shak.
        [1913 Webster]
              Upon my looking round, I was witness to appearances
              which filled me with melancholy and regret. --R.
        [1913 Webster]
     4. (Law)
        (a) One who testifies in a cause, or gives evidence before
            a judicial tribunal; as, the witness in court agreed
            in all essential facts.
        (b) One who sees the execution of an instrument, and
            subscribes it for the purpose of confirming its
            authenticity by his testimony; one who witnesses a
            will, a deed, a marriage, or the like.
            [1913 Webster]
     Privileged witnesses. (Law) See under Privileged.
     With a witness, effectually; to a great degree; with great
        force, so as to leave some mark as a testimony. [Colloq.]
        [1913 Webster]
              This, I confess, is haste with a witness. --South.
        [1913 Webster]

From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48 :

  Witness \Wit"ness\, v. i.
     To bear testimony; to give evidence; to testify. --Chaucer.
     [1913 Webster]
           The men of Belial witnessed against him. --1 Kings xxi.
     [1913 Webster]
           The witnessing of the truth was then so generally
           attended with this event [martyrdom] that martyrdom now
           signifies not only to witness, but to witness to death.
     [1913 Webster]

From WordNet (r) 3.0 (2006) :

      n 1: someone who sees an event and reports what happened [syn:
           witness, witnesser, informant]
      2: a close observer; someone who looks at something (such as an
         exhibition of some kind); "the spectators applauded the
         performance"; "television viewers"; "sky watchers discovered
         a new star" [syn: spectator, witness, viewer,
         watcher, looker]
      3: testimony by word or deed to your religious faith
      4: (law) a person who attests to the genuineness of a document
         or signature by adding their own signature [syn: witness,
         attestant, attestor, attestator]
      5: (law) a person who testifies under oath in a court of law
      v 1: be a witness to; "She witnessed the accident and had to
           testify in court"
      2: perceive or be contemporaneous with; "We found Republicans
         winning the offices"; "You'll see a lot of cheating in this
         school"; "The 1960's saw the rebellion of the younger
         generation against established traditions"; "I want to see
         results" [syn: witness, find, see]

From Moby Thesaurus II by Grady Ward, 1.0 :

  197 Moby Thesaurus words for "witness":
     TV-viewer, accessory, acknowledge, admission, adviser, affidavit,
     affirm, affirmation, allegation, allege, announce, announcer,
     annunciator, appear, argue, assertion, asseverate, asseveration,
     assister, attend, attest, attestant, attestation, attestator,
     attester, authority, authorization, aver, averment, avouch,
     avouchment, avow, avowal, be at, be present at, bear witness,
     behold, beholder, bespeak, betoken, bill of health, bird-watcher,
     bystander, catch, catch sight of, certificate,
     certificate of proficiency, certification, certify, channel,
     clap eyes on, cojuror, come to, communicant, communicator,
     compurgation, compurgator, confirmation, credential, declaration,
     defendant, depone, deponent, depose, deposition, descry, diploma,
     discern, disclose, disclosure, discover, distinguish, do,
     drugstore cowboy, earwitness, endorse, enlightener, espy, evidence,
     examinant, examinate, examinee, expert witness, eyewitness, gaper,
     gazer, gazer-on, girl-watcher, give evidence, glimpse, go to,
     goggler, gossipmonger, grapevine, have in sight, informant,
     information center, information medium, informer,
     instrument in proof, interviewee, ken, kibitzer, lay eyes on,
     legal evidence, litigant, litigationist, litigator, look on,
     look upon, looker, looker-on, make out, monitor, mouthpiece,
     navicert, newsmonger, notarized statement, note, notice, notifier,
     observe, observer, ogler, onlooker, panel, parties litigant, party,
     passerby, perceive, perceiver, percipient, pick out, plaintiff,
     press, profession, proof, public relations officer, publisher,
     questionee, quizzee, radio, recognize, reporter, see, seer,
     sheepskin, show up, sidewalk superintendent, sight, sit in, source,
     spectator, spectatress, spectatrix, spokesman, spot, spy,
     statement, subject, subscribe, suitor, swear, swearer,
     sworn evidence, sworn statement, sworn testimony, take in,
     televiewer, television, television-viewer, teller, testament,
     testamur, testifier, testify, testimonial, testimonium, testimony,
     ticket, tipster, tout, turn up, twig, video-gazer, view, viewer,
     visa, vise, visit, vouch, voucher, warrant, warranty, watch,
     watcher, word

From Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary :

     More than one witness was required in criminal cases (Deut.
     17:6; 19:15). They were the first to execute the sentence on the
     condemned (Deut. 13:9; 17:7; 1 Kings 21:13; Matt. 27:1; Acts
     7:57, 58). False witnesses were liable to punishment (Deut.
     19:16-21). It was also an offence to refuse to bear witness
     (Lev. 5:1).

From Bouvier's Law Dictionary, Revised 6th Ed (1856) :

  WITNESS. One who, being sworn or affirmed, according to law, deposes as to 
  his knowledge of facts in issue between the parties in a cause. 
       2. In another sense by witness is understood one who is called upon to 
  be present at a transaction, as a wedding, or the making of a will. When a 
  person signs his name to an instrument, as a deed, a bond, and the like, to 
  signify that the same was executed in his presence, he is called an 
  attesting witness. 
       3. The testimony of witnesses can never have the effect of a 
  demonstration, because it is not impossible, indeed it frequently happens, 
  that they are mistaken, or wish themselves to deceive. There can, therefore, 
  result no other certainty from their testimony than what arises from 
  analogy. When in the calm of the passions, we listen only to the voice of 
  reason and the impulse of nature we feel in ourselves a great repugnance to 
  betray the truth, to the prejudice of another, and we have observes that 
  honest, intelligent and disinterested persons never combine to deceive 
  others by a falsehood. We conclude then, by analogy, with a sort of moral 
  certainty, that a fact attested by several witnesses, worthy of credit, is 
  true. This proof derives its whole force from a double presumption. We 
  presume, in the first place, on the good sense of the witnesses that they 
  have not been mistaken; and, secondly, we presume on their probity that they 
  wish not to deceive. To be certain that they have not been deceived, and 
  that they do not wish to mislead, we must ascertain, as far as possible, the 
  nature and the quality of the facts proved; the quality and the person of 
  the witness; and the testimony itself, by comparing it with the deposition 
  of other witnesses, or with known facts. Vide Circumstances. 
       4. It is proper to consider, 1st. The character of the witness. 2d. The 
  quality of the witness. 3d. The number of witnesses required by law. 
       5.-1. When we are called upon to rely on the testimony of another in 
  order to form a judgment as to certain facts, we must be certain, 1st. That 
  he knows the facts in question, and that he is not mistaken; and, 2d. That 
  he is disposed to tell the truth, and has no desire to impose on those who 
  are to form a judgment on his testimony. The confidence therefore, which we 
  give to the witness must be considered, in the first place, by his capacity 
  or his organization, and in the next, by the interest or motive which he has 
  to tell or not to tell the truth. When the facts to which the witness 
  testifies agree with the circumstances which are known to exist, he becomes 
  much more credible than when there is a contradiction in this respect. It is 
  true that until impeached one witness is as good as another; but when a 
  witness is impeached, although he remains competent, he is not as credible 
  as before. Vide Circumstances; Competency; Credibility. 
       6.-11. As to the quality of the witnesses, it is a general rule that 
  all persons way be witnesses. To this there are various exceptions. A 
  witness may be incompetent, 1. For want of understanding. 2. On account of 
  interest. 3. Because his admission is contrary to public policy. 4. For want 
  of religious principles; and, 5. On account of infamy. 
       7.-Sec. 1. Persons who want understanding, it is clear, cannot be 
  witnesses, because they are to depose to facts which they know; and if they 
  have no understanding, they cannot know the facts. There are two classes of 
  persons of this kind. 
       8.-1. Infants. A child of any age capable of distinguishing between 
  good and evil may be examined as a witness; and in all cases, the 
  examination must be under oath or affirmation. 1 Phil. Ev. 19; 1 Const. R. 
  354. This appears to be the rule in England; though formerly it was held by 
  some judges that it was a presumption of law that the child was incompetent 
  when he was under seven years of age. Gilb. Ev. 144; 1 East, R. 422; 1 East, 
  P. C. 443; 1 Leach, 199. When the child is under fourteen, he is presumed 
  incapable until capacity is shown; 2 Tenn. Rep. 80; 19 Mass. R. 225; and see 
  18 John. R. 105; when he is over fourteen he may be sworn without a previous 
  examination. 2 South. R. 589. 
       9.-2. Idiots and lunatics. An idiot cannot be examined as a witness, 
  but a lunatic, (q.v.) during a lucid interval, (q.v.) may be examined. A 
  person in a state of intoxication cannot be admitted as a witness. 15 Serg. 
  & Rawle, 235. See Ray, Med. Jur. c. 22, Sec. 300 to 311. 
       10.-Sec. 2. Interest in the event of the suit excludes the witness from 
  examination, unless under certain circumstances. See article Interest. The 
  exceptions are the cases of informers, (q.v.) when the statute makes them 
  witnesses, although they may be entitled to a penalty; 1 Phil. Ev. 96; 
  persons entitled to a reward, (q.v.) are sometimes competent; agents are 
  also admitted in order to prove a contract made by them on the part of the 
  principal, 1 Phil. Ev. 99; and see 1 John. Cas. 408; 2 John. Cas. 60; 2 
  John. R. 189; 13 Mass. R. 380; 11 Mass. R. 60; 2 Marsh. In 706 b; 1 Dall. R. 
  7; 1 Caines' R. 167. A mere trustee may be examined by either party. 1 
  Clarke, R. 281. An interested witness competency may be restored by a 
  release. 1 Phil. Ev. 101. Vide, generally, 1 Day's R. 266, 269; 1 Caines' R. 
  276; 8 John. R. 518; 4 Mass. R. 488; 3 John. Cas. 82, 269; 1 Hayw. 2; 5 
  Halst. R. 297; 6 Binn. R. 319; 4 Binn. 83; 1 Dana's R. 181; 1 Taylor's R. 
  55; Bac. Ab. Evidence B; Bouv. Inst. Index, h.t. 
       11.-Sec. 3. There are some persons who cannot be examined as witnesses, 
  because it is inconsistent with public policy that they should testify 
  against certain persons; these are, 
       12.-1. Husband and wife. The reason for excluding them from giving 
  evidence, either for or against each other, is founded partly on their 
  identity of interest, partly on a principle of public policy which deems it 
  necessary to guard the security and confidence of private life, even at the 
  risk of an occasional failure of justice. They cannot be witnesses for each 
  other because their interests are absolutely the same; they are not 
  witnesses against each other, because it is against the policy of marriage. 
  Co. Litt. 6, b; 2 T. R. 265, 269; 6 Binn. 488. This is the rule when either 
  is a party to a civil suit or action. 
       13. But where one of them, not being a party, is interested in the 
  result, there is a distinction between the giving evidence for and against 
  the other. It is an invariable rule that neither of them is a witness for 
  the other who is interested in the result, and that where the husband is 
  disqualified by his interest, the wife is also incompetent. 1 Ld. Raym. 744; 
  2 Str. 1095; 1 P. Wms. 610. 
       14. On the other hand, where the interest of the husband, consisting in 
  a civil liability, would not have protected him from examination, it seems 
  that the wife must also answer, although the effect may be to subject her 
  husband to an action. This case differs very materially from those where the 
  husband himself could not have been examined, either because he was a party 
  or because he would criminate himself. The party to whom the testimony of 
  the wife is essential, has a legal interest in her evidence; and as he might 
  insist on examining the husband, it would, it seems, be straining the rule 
  of policy too far to deprive him of the benefit of the wife's testimony. In 
  an action for goods sold and delivered, it has been held that the wife of a 
  third person is competent to prove that the credit was given to her husband. 
  1 Str. 504; B. N. P. 287. See 1 H. & M. 154; 11 Mass. 286; 1 Har. & J. 478; 
  1 Tayl. 9; 6 Binn. 488; 1 Yeates; 390, 534. 
       15. When neither of them is either a party to the suit, nor interested 
  in the general result, the husband or wife is, it seems, competent to prove 
  any fact, provided the evidence does not directly criminate, or tend to 
  criminate, the other. 2 T. R. 263. 
       16. It has been held in Pennsylvania that the deposition of a wife on 
  her deathbed, charging her husband with murdering her, was good evidence 
  against him, on his trial for murder. Addis. 332. On an indictment for a 
  conspiracy in inveigling a young girl from her mother's house, and she being 
  intoxicated, procuring the marriage ceremony to be recited between her and 
  one of the defendants, the girl is a competent witness to prove the facts. 2 
  Yeates, 114. 
       17. See, as to the competency of a wife de facto, but not de jure, 
  Stark. Ev, pt. 4, p. 711. And on an indictment for forcible entry, the wife 
  of the prosecutor was examined as a witness to prove the force, but only the 
  force. 1 Dall. 68. 
       18. 2. Attorneys. They cannot be examined as witnesses as to 
  confidential communications which they have received from their clients, 
  made while the relation of attorney and client subsisted. 3 Johns. Cas. 198. 
  See 3 Yeates, 4. Communications thus protected must have been made to him as 
  instructions necessary for conducting the cause, and not any extraneous or 
  impertinent matter; 3 Johns. Cas. 198; they must have been made to him in 
  the character of a counsel and not as a friend merely; 1 Caines' R. 15 7; 
  they must have been made while the relation of counsel and client existed, 
  and not after. 13 John. Rep. 492. An attorney may be examined as to the 
  existence of a paper entrusted to him by his client, and as to the fact that 
  it is in his possession, but he cannot be compelled to produce it, or 
  disclose its date or contents. 17 Johns. R. 335. See 18 Johns. R. 330. He 
  may also be called to prove a collateral fact not entrusted to him by his 
  client; as to prove. his client's handwriting. 19 Johns. R. 134: 3 Yeates, 
  4. He is a competent witness for his client, although his judgment fee 
  depends upon his success; 1 Dall. 241; or he expects to receive a larger fee 
  from his client if the latter succeeds. 4 S. & R. 82. In Louisiana, the 
  reverse has been decided. It is there held that an attorney cannot become a 
  witness for his client in a cause in which he was employed, by renouncing 
  his fee, and having his name struck off from the record, in that case. 3 N. 
  S. 88. Vide Confidential Communications. 
       19.-3. Confessors. In New York it has been held that a confessor could 
  not be compelled to disclose secrets which he had received in auricular 
  confession. City Hall Rec. 80 n. Vide Confessor; Confidential 
       20.-4. Jurors. A juror is not competent to prove his own or the conduct 
  of his fellow jurors to impeach a verdict they have rendered. 5 Conn. R. 
  348. See Coxe, R. 166, and article Grand Jury. And a judge in a cause which 
  is on trial before him cannot be a witness, as he cannot decide on his own 
  competency, nor on the weight of his own testimony, compared with that of 
  another; 2 Mart. R. N. S. 312; 1 Greenl. Ev. Sec. 364. 
       21.-5. Slaves. It is said that a slave could not be a witness at common 
  law because of the unbounded influence his master had over him. 4 Dall. R. 
  145, note 1; but see 1 St. Tr. 113 Macnally's Ev. 156. By statutory 
  provisions in the slave states, a slave is generally held incompetent in 
  actions between white persons. See 7 Monr. R. 91; 4 Ham. R. 353; 5 Litt. R. 
  171; 3 Harr. & John. 97; 1 McCord, R. 430. In New York a free black man is 
  competent to prove facts happening while he was a slave. 1 John. R. 508; see 
  10 John. R. 132. 
       22.-6. A party to a negotiable instrument, is not allowed to give 
  evidence to invalidate it. 1 T. R. 300. But the rule is confined to 
  negotiable instruments. 1 Bl. R. 365. This rule does not appear to be very 
  firmly established in England. In the state courts of some of the United 
  States it has been adopted, and may now be considered to be law. 2 Dall. R. 
  194; ld. 196; 2 Binn. R. 154; 2 Dall. R. 242; 1 Cain. R. 258, 267; 2 Johns. 
  R. 165; Id. 258; 1 John. R. 572; 3 Mass R. 559; Id. 565; Id. 27; Id. 31; 1 
  Day, R. 17; 6 Pet. 51; 8 Pet. 12; 5 Greenl. 374; 1 Bailey, 479; 2 Dall. 194. 
  But flee 16 John. 70; 8 Wend. 90; 20 John. 285. The witness may however 
  testify to subsequent facts, not tending to show that the instrument was 
  originally invalid. Peake's N. P. C. 6. See 2 Wash. 63; 1 Hen. & Munf. 165, 
  166, 175; 1 Cranch, R. 194. 
       23.-Sec. 4. When the witness has no religious principles to bind his 
  conscience, the law rejects his testimony; but there is not such defect of 
  religious principles, when the witness believes in the existence of a God, 
  who will reward or punish in this world or that which is to come. Willes' R. 
  550. Vide the article Infidel where the subject is more fully examined and 
  Atheist; Future state. 
       24.-Sec. 5. Infamy (q.v.) is a disqualification while it remains. 
       25.-III. As to the number of witnesses, it is a general rule that one 
  witness is sufficient to establish a fact, but to this there are exceptions, 
  both in civil and criminal cases. 
       26.-1. In civil cases. The laws of perhaps all the states of the Union 
  require two witnesses and some require even more, to prove the execution of 
  a last will and testament devising lands. 
       27.-2. In criminal cages, there are several instances where two 
  witnesses at least are required. The constitution of the United States, art. 
  3, s. 3, provides that no person shall be convicted of treason, unless on 
  the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in 
  open court. In cases of perjury there must evidently be two witnesses, or 
  one witness, and such circumstances as have the effect of one witness; for 
  if there be but one witness, then there is oath against oath, and therefore 
       28. A witness may be compelled to attend court. In the first place a 
  subpoena requiring his attendance must be served upon him personally, and on 
  his neglect to attend, an attachment for contempt will be issued. See, 
  generally, Bouv. Inst. Index, h.t. 

From Bouvier's Law Dictionary, Revised 6th Ed (1856) :

  WITNESS, AGED. It has been laid down as a rule that to be considered an aged 
  witness, a person must be at least seventy years old. See Aged Witness. 

From Bouvier's Law Dictionary, Revised 6th Ed (1856) :

  WITNESS, GOING. A going witness is one who is about to leave the 
  jurisdiction of the court in which a cause is depending. See Going Witness. 

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