There are several, related usages of the word “affirm” in a legal context; but, generally it means “to confirm or ratify.” Common occurrences of this word include:
- An appellate court can affirm the ruling that was the subject of the appeal. In doing so, the court agrees that the prior ruling was “valid and right and must stand as rendered below”
- Courts, administrative boards, and other similar bodies have used “affirm” to mean “approve”
- Government officials, witnesses in civil or criminal trials, and others who are required to take an oath may choose to state that they “affirm” the content of the oath rather than “swear” to it. This is true, for example, of the oath of office of U.S. Senators.
Last updated in May of 2020 by the Wex Definitions Team