follow Dictionary.com

Get the details behind our redesign

oath

[ohth] /oʊθ/
noun, plural oaths
[ohth z, ohths] /oʊðz, oʊθs/ (Show IPA)
1.
a solemn appeal to a deity, or to some revered person or thing, to witness one's determination to speak the truth, to keep a promise, etc.:
to testify upon oath.
2.
a statement or promise strengthened by such an appeal.
3.
a formally affirmed statement or promise accepted as an equivalent of an appeal to a deity or to a revered person or thing; affirmation.
4.
the form of words in which such a statement or promise is made.
5.
an irreverent or blasphemous use of the name of God or anything sacred.
6.
any profane expression; curse; swearword:
He slammed the door with a muttered oath.
Idioms
7.
take an oath, to swear solemnly; vow.
Origin
900
before 900; Middle English ooth, Old English āth; cognate with German Eid
Can be confused
oaf, oath.
Synonyms
2. vow, pledge. 5. profanity.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
Cite This Source
Examples for oaths
  • Its members were obliged, by their oaths of office, to enforce the laws of the land.
  • They swear no oaths, take care of no patients, and profess no high-minded ethical duties.
  • Your words, your oaths, are deeply graven in my heart.
  • The historical and legal basis for oaths is often misunderstood.
  • Free speech zones, loyalty oaths, and now purity tests.
  • Any who do so now may find the oaths haunting them in the courts.
  • Religions have been outlawed and people forced to take oaths committing to the majority's religion.
  • She reeled and grimaced and swore shocking oaths under the influence of drink.
  • Undergraduates swear oaths before admission that they will never cheat and will confront or turn in students who do.
  • The oaths that they swore were anything but pacific.
British Dictionary definitions for oaths

oath

/əʊθ/
noun (pl) oaths (əʊðz)
1.
a solemn pronouncement to affirm the truth of a statement or to pledge a person to some course of action, often involving a sacred being or object as witness related adjective juratory
2.
the form of such a pronouncement
3.
an irreverent or blasphemous expression, esp one involving the name of a deity; curse
4.
on oath, upon oath, under oath
  1. under the obligation of an oath
  2. (law) having sworn to tell the truth, usually with one's hand on the Bible
5.
take an oath, to declare formally with an oath or pledge, esp before giving evidence
Word Origin
Old English āth; related to Old Saxon, Old Frisian ēth, Old High German eid
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for oaths
oath
O.E. "oath, judicial swearing, solemn appeal to deity in witness of truth or a promise," from P.Gmc. *aithaz (cf. O.N. eiðr, Swed. ed, O.Fris. eth, Du. eed, Ger. eid, Goth. aiþs "oath"), from PIE *oi-to- "an oath" (cf. O.Ir. oeth "oath"). In ref. to careless invocations of divinity, from c.1175.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
oaths in the Bible

a solemn appeal to God, permitted on fitting occasions (Deut. 6:13; Jer. 4:2), in various forms (Gen. 16:5; 2 Sam. 12:5; Ruth 1:17; Hos. 4:15; Rom. 1:9), and taken in different ways (Gen. 14:22; 24:2; 2 Chr. 6:22). God is represented as taking an oath (Heb. 6:16-18), so also Christ (Matt. 26:64), and Paul (Rom. 9:1; Gal. 1:20; Phil. 1:8). The precept, "Swear not at all," refers probably to ordinary conversation between man and man (Matt. 5:34,37). But if the words are taken as referring to oaths, then their intention may have been to show "that the proper state of Christians is to require no oaths; that when evil is expelled from among them every yea and nay will be as decisive as an oath, every promise as binding as a vow."

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
Cite This Source
Encyclopedia Article for oaths

oath

sacred or solemn voluntary promise usually involving the penalty of divine retribution for intentional falsity and often used in legal procedures. It is not certain that the oath was always considered a religious act; such ancient peoples as the Germanic tribes, Greeks, Romans, and Scythians swore by their swords or other weapons. These peoples, however, were actually invoking a symbol of the power of a war god as a guarantee of their trustworthiness.

Learn more about oath with a free trial on Britannica.com
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
Cite This Source

Word of The Day

Difficulty index for oath

All English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for oaths

8
7
Scrabble Words With Friends

Quotes with oaths