AskDefine | Define testimony

Dictionary Definition



1 a solemn statement made under oath
2 an assertion offering firsthand authentication of a fact; "according to his own testimony he can't do it"
3 something that serves as evidence; "his effort was testimony to his devotion" [syn: testimonial]

User Contributed Dictionary




testimony (plural: testimonies)
  1. Statements made by a witness in court.
  2. An account of first-hand experience.
  3. In a church service, a personal account, such as of one's conversion.


statement in court
account of first-hand experience
personal account of conversion

Extensive Definition

For Tony Palmer's film about Shostakovich, see Testimony (film)
In law and in religion, testimony is a solemn attestation as to the truth of a matter.

Legal testimony

In the law, testimony is a form of evidence that is obtained from a witness who makes a solemn statement or declaration of fact. Testimony may be oral or written, and it is usually made by oath or affirmation under penalty of perjury. Unless a witness is testifying as an expert witness, testimony in the form of opinions or inferences is generally limited to those opinions or inferences that are rationally based on the perceptions of the witness and are helpful to a clear understanding of the witness' testimony.
A subpoena commands a person to appear. It is compulsory to comply.
When a witness is asked a question, the opposing attorney can raise an objection (, which is a legal move to disallow an improper question, preferably before the witness answers, and mentioning one of the standard reasons, including:
  • argumentative or inflammatory
  • asked and answered
  • best evidence rule
  • calls for speculation
  • calls for a conclusion
  • compound question or narrative
  • hearsay
  • irrelevant, immaterial, incompetent (this is actually not a proper objection because the term "incompetent" is meaningless and the words "irrelevant" and "immaterial" have the same meaning under the Federal Rules of Evidence).
  • lack of foundation
  • leading question
  • privilege
  • vague
  • ultimate issue testimony
There may also be an objection to the answer, including:
  • non-responsive
Up until the mid-20th century, in much of the United States, an attorney often had to follow an objection with an exception to preserve the issue for appeal. If an attorney failed to "take an exception" immediately after the court's ruling on the objection, he waived his client's right to appeal the issue. Exceptions have since been abolished, due to the widespread recognition that forcing lawyers to take them was a waste of time.

Religious testimony

In religion, testimony generally involves an inward belief or outward profession of faith or of personal religious experience.
Christians in general use the term "testify" or "to give your testimony" to mean "the story of how you became a Christian" (or less commonly it may refer to a specific event in a Christian's life in which God has done something deemed particularly worth sharing). Christians often give their testimony at their own baptism or at evangelistic events, where non-Christians are able to hear what God has done in their lives. In the current age of the internet, many Christians have also placed their testimonies on the internet.
In some religions (most notably Mormonism and Islam) many adherents testify as a profession of their faith, often to a congregation of believers. In Mormonism, testifying is also referred to as "bearing one's testimony," and often involves the sharing of personal experience—ranging from a simple anecdote to an account of personal revelation—followed by a statement of belief that has been confirmed by this experience.

Testimony in literature

Some published oral or written autobiographical narratives are considered "testimonial literature" particularly when they present evidence or first person accounts of human rights abuses, violence and war, and living under conditions of social oppression. This usage of the term comes originally from Latin America and the Spanish term "testimonio" when it emerged from human rights tribunals, truth commissions, and other international human rights instruments in countries such as Chile and Argentina. One of the most famous, though controversial, of these works to be translated into English is I, Rigoberta Menchú. The autobiographies of Frederick Douglass can be considered among the earliest significant English-language works in this genre.

Testimony in Philosophy

In philosophy, a testimony is known as Statements that are based on personal experience or personal knowledge. A statement is accepted on the basis of person's testimony if his or her asserting it renders it acceptable. We can also, rationally accept a claim on the basis of another persons testimony unless (1. the claim is implausible; 2. The person or the source in which the claim is quoted lacks credibility; 3. The claim goes beyond what the person could know from his or her own experience and competence.)

See also

testimony in Persian: گواهی
testimony in Czech: Svědectví
testimony in German: Personenbeweis
testimony in Hebrew: עדות
testimony in Japanese: 証言

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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