Oath Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Oath, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Oath?

Judicially, oaths are the promises or declaration made by the witness, plaintiff, defendants, judges, lawyers that whatever they say or write is truth and nothing but the truth.The oath is taken invoking the God, whom one believes and fears and has a notion that lying or a false statement may lead to punishment for them. 2) It also refers to the swearing in or taking a postion in a government office. 3) promise to do something truthful and being sincerly dedicated to something.

History and Meaning of Oath

The use of oaths can be traced back to ancient times when people believed in the power of divine entities. In those times, people believed that taking an oath before the gods would make them accountable for their actions, and failing to keep an oath would provoke divine wrath. As such, oaths were taken very seriously, and were believed to be binding.

In modern times, oaths are still taken in legal and religious contexts. In law, when a person takes an oath, they promise to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. When someone is sworn into a public office, they take an oath of office in which they swear to uphold the Constitution and carry out their duties to the best of their abilities. In religious contexts, oaths may be taken during baptism or confirmation, where the individual makes a promise to follow the teachings of their faith.

Examples of Oath

  1. In court, a witness takes an oath before they give their testimony under questioning from the judge or attorneys.

  2. The President of the United States takes an oath of office during their inauguration, swearing to uphold the Constitution and the laws of the country.

  3. In a religious context, a priest or pastor may take an oath of celibacy, vowing to remain unmarried and chaste for the rest of their life.

Legal Terms Similar to Oath

  1. Affirmation - A solemn declaration that a statement is true, made by someone who has a religious objection to taking an oath.

  2. Testimony - Evidence given under oath, typically in a court of law.

  3. Swearing In - Administering an oath to someone who is joining a public office or being appointed to a government position.